The Art of Persistence: Akamatsu Toshiko and the Visual Cultures of Transwar Japan
University of Hawaii Press, 31.12.2019 г. - 336 страници
The Art of Persistence examines the relations between art and politics in transwar Japan, exploring these via a microhistory of the artist, memoirist, and activist Akamatsu Toshiko (also known as Maruki Toshi, 1912–2000). Scaling up from the details of Akamatsu’s lived experience, the book addresses major events in modern Japanese history, including colonization and empire, war, the nuclear bombings, and the transwar proletarian movement. More broadly, it outlines an ethical position known as persistence, which occupies the grey area between complicity and resistance: Like resilience, persistence signals a commitment to not disappearing—a fierce act of taking up space but often from a position of privilege, among the classes and people in power. Akamatsu grew up in a settler-colonial family in rural Hokkaido before attending arts college in Tokyo and becoming one of the first women to receive formal training as an oil painter in Japan. She later worked as a governess in the home of a Moscow diplomat and traveled to the Japanese Mandate in Micronesia before returning home to write and illustrate children’s books set in the Pacific. She married the surrealist poet and painter Maruki Iri (1901–1995), and together in 1948—and in defiance of Occupation censorship—they began creating and exhibiting the Nuclear Series, some of the most influential and powerful artwork depicting the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. For the next forty or more years, the couple toured the world to protest war and nuclear proliferation and were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.
With abundant excerpts and drawings from Akamatsu’s journals and sketchbooks, The Art of Persistence offers a bridge between scholarship on imperial Japan and postwar memory cultures, arguing for the importance of each individual’s historical agency. While uncovering the longue durée of Japan’s visual cultures of war, it charts the development of the national(ist) “literature for little citizens” movement and Japan’s postwar reorientation toward global multiculturalism. Finally, the work proposes ways to enlist artwork generally, and the museum specifically, as a site of ethical engagement.
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Introduction Akamatsu Toshiko Microhistory and the Art of Persistence in Transwar Japan
1 From Northern Gate to Southern Advance Envisioning the NorthSouth Expansion of Colonial Japan
2 Creating Culture for Little Countrymen The Total Mobilization of Toshis Micronesian Experience
3 Red Shift Pre1945 Visual Culture Heterochronicity and Proletarian Eastern Time
4 Bare Naked Aesthetics Postwar Arts and Toshis Populist Manifesto
5 Art as War Crime Artistic Wartime Responsibility and the International Military Tribunal for the Far East
6 Art as Direct Action Hiroshima and the Nuclear Panels
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action active aesthetic Akamatsu Toshiko argues artists artwork Association atomic August begin bijutsu bodies bomb bunka chapter children’s coconut collection colonial Communist completed concerning continued cover create critical culture direct discussed display drawing early engaged exhibit experiences face front Genbaku girl hand Hiroshima Hokkaidō human illus illustrations imperial instance island issue Japan Japanese labor late later least living look major March Maruki materials Micronesia military Moscow move newspaper notes Nuclear Panels opening painting pencil period person piece political position postwar practice Private produced proletarian published responsibility Russian scene sensō sketch social soldiers South Seas story suggests tion Tokyo Toshi train turn visual wartime woman women writes young