Benesse Art Site Naoshima

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Opening of the Summer Performing Arts Programs on Inujima Island

Inujima, in Higashi-ward, Okayama, is a small island that can be covered on foot in about two hours. The island's prosperity came from its stone quarry during the Edo period, and its copper refinery in years after thaoperationt at the beginning of the 20th cenurz. However, with changes in industry and society, the island's population has dwindled to about 50 people.

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Since 2002, Inujima island has attracted various performing arts groups who have come to perform on its outdoor stage, including Osaka-based "Ishinha." Ishinha, well known for conceiving and developing their productions on-site, sets out to foster a deeper relationship with the local island community.

In 2008, Benesse Art Site Naoshima built the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum on the island, and opened the Inujima "Art House Project" in 2010 based on the motto: "Using what exists to create what is to be." Both have brought an influx of visitors and new life to the tiny island. Benesse Art Site Naoshima, which originally focused on contemporary art, set out to foster a deeper relationship with the local island community, and recognised the potential and power of the performing arts in achieving this goal. The performing arts movement has been embraced on the island, where it serves to both promote its culture and pass it on to future generations.

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"URA-SHIMA" (Writer: Hiromi Sumi; Director: Shyuji Onodera; Producer: NPO Artfirm), which earned the 2015 Inujima Performing Arts Grant, was performed on Inujima in October, 2015.

Four performing arts programs will be introduced at the summer and autumn seasons of the Setouchi Triennale 2016.

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"MuDA Iron" by MuDA, aims to portray and convey life's regenerative experiences, such as "what arises after a collision." Physical collision, the island's nature, iron, and various elements will be incorporated into the performance. (Dates: July 29 to 31, 2016)
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"The World has Shrunk, and Only a Certain Fact Remains" by Nibroll. The performers will set out to give form to Inujima's past and future through physical expression, at the power plant of the now-defunct Inujima Refinery, a symbol of Inujima's past prosperity. (Dates: August 10 to 13, 2016)
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"Inujima Sound Project: Inuto Imago," produced by Kazuhisa Uchihashi, who has been a theater music director with Ishinha for more than 30 years, along with a small group of musicians from Indonesia, will tune in to the sounds of Inujima island, and create their own unique musical compositions. (Live & Workshop Dates: August 22 to September 4, 2016)
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"VESSEL," a performative art installation comprised of bodies, sculpture. A collaboration of choreographer Damien Jalet and sculptor Kohei Nawa. (Date: October 15, 2016)

The first group, MuDA, chose "Iron" as its theme. Even after a hundred years, a huge volume of scrap metal still remains on Inujima, remnants of the copper refinery industry which once supported the island's economy.

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MuDA members visiting Inujima in January, 2016. Speaking to islanders about the history of the island, and the days when the Inujima Refinery was still in operation.

Iron is said to be the most stable element in space. At the site of the stage for their performance, remnants of iron left-over from the copper refinery lay scattered over the ground.

"The energy released from an explosion moves toward a stable state, and then repeats the cycle. Iron continues to be produced from the repeated collisions in the cosmic cycle of the universe. This means that even in the vastness of space, where all elements seem to exist in disorder, they are actually moving in the same direction. From these collisions and the reactions born from them, everything starts. In every moment of every collision, life and the world begin." (MuDA)

What kind of energy will MuDA's performance leave behind on Inujima?

These four projects are vastly different in terms of genre, production, and the creative process behind each. All, however, bring the island's folklore, customs, and history to light, reproducing and recreating them through different styles of performative arts. What thought and feelings will these projects generate within you? What will the culmination of each event, each person involved, and each word spoken be? And what will each bring to Inujima and the future of the island? These projects will reveal their answers in their own ways.

We hope you will enjoy the New Movement beginning on Inujima in the Summer of 2016.

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