The Best Laid Travel Plans . . .

The conversations of "Art Place Japan LA" at USC last Friday revealed more points of connection than we fully anticipated, thanks in large part to Cathy Gudis, Allison Carruth, and Barron Bixler, who read our translation of Fram Kitagawa's book and were articulate and optimistic about how art and rivers connect communities in LA and Japan. 

The dialogue, however, was somewhat muted since Kitagawa-san was denied entry to the US by the Department of Homeland Security, so he and Maeda Rei-san were unable to join us.. He began the discussion with an address in Japanese via video conference explaining some background to the situation. Here is the text of that address, first  translated into English (read by Amiko Matsuo at the event), and then in Japanese. 

Message from Kitagawa Fram-san:

I am very sorry that I cannot join you. I was invited to speak at two symposiums, one in Seattle and one in Los Angeles, but my application for a visa to enter the country has been denied by the United States Department of Homeland Security. I protest this decision.

Ifeel fortunate to have been given an opportunity to speak about the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, which takes place in a remote, depopulated area of Japan’s snow country. Thank you again for your invitation and to all of you here today.

I was arrested four times. One of my arrests was in 1967, which happened when I was protesting the expansion of the US military base in Sunagawa. I have never been charged with a crime or prosecuted and in legal terms I am innocent. If one concludes that another person’s thoughts pose some potential threat to the United States, then that supposition is arbitrary and pessimistic and doesn't consider personal growth. It is an attitude that runs precisely counter to art’s infinite faith in human possibility.

I have come to the United States several times in the past and I believe that visa policy has been willfully changed as a result of tensions in world politics. It seems to me that the refusal to grant me a visa is connected to the ongoing protest of the Okinawan people against the construction of the new US military base in Henoko. We should remind ourselves that the US-Japan relationship was been structured by political programs, which began with Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers after World War Two. And the ANPO US-Japan Security Treaty that emerged from that.

We all live within states. We cannot escape that. Nevertheless, states like the US or Japan are just a historical framework and a construct. Nonetheless, Homo sapiens have developed their individual and unique abilities to embrace the nature of art---

Many individuals and organizations including the University of Washington, the University of the Southern California, the Japan Foundation, the Japanese Ministry of Law, the National Police Agency of Japan, have supported me in my attempt to get a visa issued for my travel for these cultural events scheduled in Seattle and Los Angeles. I have invited many American and American-based artists to participate in many different projects in Japan and worked with many American researchers and supporters in the past.

I am very disappointed and sorry about this incident, but having acknowledged all this, let us move forward with the awareness and humility toward forbearers---those that have faced and overcome adversities to inspire us to face our challenges today.

Now, I would like to leave Brad Monsma and Amiko Matsuo to make a presentation about Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale on my behalf. They are translators of my first English book Art Place Japan: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and the Vision to Reconnect Art and Nature, and they have made great efforts to invite me to Los Angeles.

Please accept my gratitude, and thank you all. 


こんばんは。この度、アメリカのシアトルとロサンジェルスの2か所から、シンポジウムのご招待がありながら、VISA発給が国土安全保障省(US Department of Homeland Security)によって拒否され、伺えなくなることを残念に思い、かつこれに対して抗議する次第です。







さて、これから大地の芸術祭を中心としたプレゼンテーションを行いますが、それは、私の初めての英語での出版物となる『美術は地域をひらく 大地の芸術祭10の思想』の翻訳をし、私をロサンジェルスによぼうと尽力くださったブラッド・モンスマさんと松尾亜実子さんに、私に代わって行っていただきたいと思います。

Yukihisa Isobe's earth cell debris dam "A Monument to a Mudslide" for the sixth Echigo-Tsumari Triennale (2016). The structure protects a road and buildings from "The Dragon's Mouth," a watershed that  has produced mudslides for centuries. It plays in the space between civil engineering and monumental art, and is the latest of Isobe's commentaries on the material history of the area.