(“Baby Insadon” by Takamine Tadasu from ZAIM.)
Is a person’s identity tied to their nationality? Is language and culture divided along national borders? Does someone with two nationalities have two identities or none? What nationality is someone without the citizenship of the country they have lived in their whole lives? In a non-agricultural community, what does it mean to identify with the land? Why do immigrants have to run bureaucratic gauntlets? Or, to summarize, what is a nation?
These are questions that have plagued me off and on my whole life. Of course, my case is a privileged one, being born in Germany with German and US citizenship before moving to the States for most of my education and finally ending up as a resident of Japan. There are far more expats, immigrants, and people with ambiguous citizenship in this world, who struggle more with their national identity and with government bureaucracies so that they might live fulfilling lives where they find themselves.
In early January, I finished translating the exhibition catalogue for the Takamine Tadasu Exhibition at the Yokohama Museum of Art. On January 21, I was invited to attend the exhibition opening, and although the event was nothing like the fashionable party I had imagined it would be, I was impressed by the exhibition itself. Read the rest of this entry »