I am in Naha, Okinawa for the Museum of Okinawan Time. This is the final manifestation of AIT's series of 'Hour Museums', which we have held in various spaces since 2003. We decided to come to Okinawa for a number of reasons. The last prefectural museum opens in Naha this Saturday; we have worked a number of times with the Maejima Art Center, the only contemporary art non profit in Okinawa; and we have an interest in Okinawa's unique cultural and political position within Japan. The Museum of Okinawan Time takes place for ten days from October 26 to November 4, to cooincide with the opening of the new museum. We are working with the Maejima Art Center, who have secured two vacant old shops in the amazing Sakaemachi Ichiba (a covered market). You can get a feeling of the space in the picture above. An impressive bar, stocked with about 60 or so malt whiskies and the local spirit Awamori, is up and running. Each night the bar team alternates - I think AIT is on tonight. Kai and I are leading a lecture series for four days, artist Hiroharu Mori is leading a T-shirt workshop, we are showing our video interview archive of Japanese alternative art spaces, a session of chats with local Okinawan artists is planned and a performance by the Gunder-Sanshin Trio (who mix gamelan and the Okinawan sanshin banjo) is scheduled for the night of the 3rd. We have also curated a video screening program which will be projected onto the outside walls of the new museum on the evening of the 2nd (with the permission of the museum curators). A number of friends have also come down from Tokyo including ARCUS Residency Director and MAD tutor Mizuki Endo. As I have posted before, Okinawa has been in the news recently with the huge protests against the government's proposed review of history text books. I have visited four times now, and each visit the city of Naha seems to be getting more like other cities in Japan. Where the new museum is opening, Omoromachi, there is now a brand new huge duty free shopping mall.
Our little museum is located very much in what one can call an older Okinawa. Although relatively compact in size, the narrow alley ways and small shops selling everything from cosmetics, nuts, tofu, second hand clothes and vegetables, present a type of space which is almost comletely eradicated now in Japan. Walking around there yesterday I began talking with a man who sits in front of his shop playing an electric piano. The shop opposite serves coffee. I think I will wander over now to buy a cup.