Day 24

Five videos for Mitsouko & Mitsuko

Overview digital gestures

For the Festwochen 2020 reframed Michikazu Matsune shares five videoclips with performative elements from his postponed performance, Mitsouko & Mitsuko, a project developed in collaboration with researcher Miwa Negoro, and artists and musicians Adina Camhy and Camilo Latorre. He is also providing a text-based personal insight into his research and thoughts that led to the creation of the piece. Mitsouko & Mitsuko will be presented as part of the Wiener Festwochen 2021.

The Perfume

The project Mitsouko & Mitsuko began when I pondered the reason why the perfume named Mitsouko has a female Japanese name. Researching the origin of the name brought me to an incredible web of anecdotes surrounding two Japanese women from the past. Their stories reflect the turbulent times of the first half of the 20thcentury. First manufactured in Paris in 1919 – over a hundred years ago – this perfume is still on sale today. I came across it in a department store in Vienna’s old city centre. Here in the Video the bottle is seen rotating anti-clockwise, as if symbolizing my journey within this project. A journey that took me back in time, back to the forgotten past.

In My Hands

Three significant words are part of this project.
These concepts are actually too enormous for me to hold in my hands.

  • ‘Yellow Peril’, a reference to the xenophobic hatred and fear of Asians, which spread in the West at the end of the 19th century. It was based on the assumption that people from East Asia would conquer and take over the world.
  • ‘Zusammenschluss oder Zusammenbruch’ (‘Coming Together or Breaking Apart’) is the essay by Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi in which he makes a case in 1937 for the unification of Europe.
  • ‘Amour Fou’ (‘Insane Love’) pays homage to several love stories that appear in the story Mitsouko & Mitsuko.

The Port of Kobe

In 1896 Mitsuko Aoyama left Japan for the Austro-Hungarian Empire with her husband, Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi, and their sons, Hans and Richard. They sailed from the port of Kobe, the city where I was bornand raised. They reached Europe two months later. Mitsuko, who was only 22 years old at the time, never returned to Japan.

In early February 2020, I was on a ferry at the sea off Kobe. During the tour, I tried to imagine Mitsuko’s fate, helplessly entangled as it was with far-reaching global history.

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