Nikkei National Museum Reopening
Featuring Cindy Mochizuki: Sue Sada Was Here
NIKKEI NATIONAL MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTRE, Burnaby BC
by Michael Turner
When the Nikkei centre opened in 2000, plans were already underway for an expansion of its museum and archives. Now, almost 20 years later, those plans have given us a gallery. With the support of philanthropist and Nikkei Place co-founding director Yoshiko Karasawa (who donated a million dollars to the Nikkei Place Foundation in 2016) and additional funding from the Government of Canada, the Nikkei National Museum is, in the words of director-curator Sherri Kajiwara, “new again.” On July 20, 2019, it opens its doors to Nikkei 日系, the inaugural exhibition in its newly minted Karasawa gallery.
For Nikkei 日系, Kajiwara has drawn on the museum’s extensive archives in an e ort to both unravel and construct for broader audiences what it means – and has meant – to be Nikkei: a word that signifies Japanese ancestry, but whose “complexity often requires explanation, especially outside of Japan where the label is most relevant.” To convey that complexity, Kajiwara has organized an exhibition focused on “milestone” historical events presented in a “non-linear and intersectional way.”
Employing an exhibition strategy that juxtaposes archives and artworks, with attention given to recurrent “core” elements, Nikkei 日系 includes stories, personal items, digitized “heritage” film footage and artist Cindy Mochizuki’s Sue Sada Was Here (2018), a video installation that has dancers interpreting written texts by New Canadian journalist Muriel Kitagawa (1912-1974). Over time, Kajiwara hopes to “rotate” through the gallery elements from a collection of over 30,000 photographs, 35 metres of textual records, 500 oral history recordings, 100 fi lm reels, and 2,500 artifacts and artworks.