Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mamako Yoneyama makes dishes fly for women

Long before working mothers became so accepted they're TV-drama heroines, there was a gathering of feminists in Tokyo, where pantomimist Mamako Yoneyama performed a piece on womanhood that ended with her hurling paper plates into the air,
luminous white circles flying like spaceships, one by one, from her hand toward us, gifts of strength and hope.
They were just pieces of paper after they fell to earth.
But Yoneyama, with her voice, movement, character and presence, made them undoubtedly artistic statements.
Maybe things have changed for the younger generation.
But back then, when I was juggling job and motherhood, I was treated as an anomaly to be despised, maybe someone who was abusing her child with neglect.
Kids would come up to my son and ask with a straight face: Do you have a mother?
So unused were they to the idea that a mom could possibly be working and couldn't be there to pick them up, volunteer with the PTA, gossip in school hallways, schmooze with teachers.
The image was unforgettable _ a woman tackling a humble stack of dishes _ transforming them with the beauty of movement, a whip of her delicate wrist, into a galaxy of light defying gravity.
After it was over, we gasped in a moment of joyous silence.
I want to read a poem and throw paper plates into the air _ line by line, in homage of Yoneyama.


Javier Barrera said...

Dear Yuri,

My name is Javier. We are a group of four colleagues of Mallorca and Ibiza (Spain) that go on a trip to Japan this October (day 1 to 17; 9-17 in Tokyo) and our desire is to make use of the journey to carry out an artistic project or poetic experiment.

I’ve read your blog long before we decided to go to Japan because I like to look for another artists or poets around the world to know their work and yours is great! And I thought maybe you can help us about doing this project in your country.

The project is structured following a model of book that we have produced and of which we want to leave copies in different points of Japan in order to see whether by themselves and through the hands of the people who keep finding them, they manage to complete a poetic journey across the country (or further on).

The book contains some of our poems (Spanish or Catalan and translation into the English and into the Japanese), as well as a wide number of blank sheets availably of that one that finds them so that it reflects freely what could suggest the book to him. They are such contributions and the journey that carries out the book what is basic of the experiment.

To be able to do a tracking of the books as well as to facilitate other people being able to search it, to catch it and to transfer it to another place until completes the journey -journey that finishes in the moment in that space does not remain in the book for the contributions of the users- we have fit out also a web page

This is an experiment that does not have another goal than that of proving in which measure Poetry or Art are common to all the cultures. If one of these books completes its journey we will have complied amply with our expectations. Why not to try it?

If you are so kind to give me an email I will send to you the project background. I am

I regret to have extended too much.

Thank you very much. You have a great blog and great poems!

Yuri Kageyama said...

Hi Javier
Please let me know what I can do to help you on your project.
May your book have a fruitful journey.
And thanks for connecting with my poetic spirit all the way from Spain.

jt said...

Does anyone know if Mamako is still alive and, if so, where she is living. Last reported siting was Paris, but that was a long time ago.

Yuri Kageyama said...

I've read about her performance as recent as a couple of years ago.
They were in Japan, but I only learned about them on the Web afterward and so I couldn't go check it out.
Her death would make news here for sure. And I have not seen any such reports.