Hana Umeda – artist in residence within the "Thinking Through the Museum" program

Hana Umeda is the third artist in residence within the Thinking Through the Museum (TTTM) program to be hosted by POLIN Museum between 28 February and 20 March. TTTM residences are run by the National Heritage & Traumatic Memory artistic-and-research cluster. In Poland, the organizers are POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Powszechny Theater and FestivALT.

The artist on her artistic research:

"My current research focuses on the topic of experiencing sexual violence and strategies for coping with trauma. In doing so, I draw on my own experience and on the heritage associated with my identity—Japanese and Jewish. Sexual violence is one of the most transcultural phenomena, shared by women regardless of their ethnic identity and geographical latitude. Rape accompanies armed conflicts and times of peace, occurs in public and private spaces, by strangers and those closest to us. It has always been with us, affecting our functioning in society and our relationship with ourselves. In most cases, we don’t even expect any compensation—we do, however, often feel shame and guilt. The powerlessness and sense of lack of control over one’s own body that experiences of rape provoke are difficult to erase and are often passed down from generation to generation.

I ponder over how long it takes for a raped body to "recover"? A year? Two? Eighteen? Several generations? How does one “re-establish” their body after experiencing rape? How does its sexuality change? How does one’s attitude towards love change? What methods do the body and psyche use to cope with this experience? What do they do to keep themselves afloat?

Being half-Japanese and a certified jiutamai dancer (jiutamai is a classical Japanese dance), I examine sexual violence inscribed in the dance technique. My investigation involves the body, with clenched armpits and groins, firmly rooted in the ground, overcoming the tremor of fear with steady breathing. It also involves the body’s defensive and survival mechanisms, usually hidden under the colorful patterns of silk kimonos, layers of fabric, and the white makeup covering the skin. I apply my own raped body to the one inherited in a strictly codified dance practice passed down from generation to generation of Japanese women. I look at traditional dance narratives through the lens of experiencing sexual violence. While doing so, I have noticed two types of narratives which are of particular interest to me in this context. The first is associated with a sense of lack of agency and humiliation, which often emerges from sad dances about love. The second type is narratives about female vengeance—recurring stories of a wronged woman who transforms into a vengeful and cruel demon. One could describe the woman as possessed, but in fact her state offers a potential for emancipation.

Eli Somer, Israeli clinical psychologist who studies the phenomenon of maladaptive daydreaming as a form of mental disorder, analyzes the legends about the dybbuk using the tools borrowed from clinical psychology. He diagnoses women possessed by a dybbuk as individuals experiencing dissociation resulting from sexual violence they have experienced.

During the residency, I will explore the above issues both from the level of historical sources and resources, from the level of the body and visuality, and from the level of historical memory, focusing on the somatic and semantic aspect, on what the body feels and what meanings are projected onto it."

About the artist:

Hana Umeda—a performer, director, dancer, graduate of cultural studies at the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw, student of the master Hanasaki Tokijyo, head of the Hanasaki-ryu school in Tokyo, and a natori in the jiutamai Hanasaki-ryu school. She is currently a participant in the SoDA MA program at HZT, Berlin University of the Arts. In 2020, as a jiutamai Hanasaki-ryu dancer, Hana adopted the name Sada Hanasaki. Between 2021 and 2023, she was a member of the Centrum w Ruchu [Center in Movement] collective. She was a scholarship holder of the Young Poland [Młoda Polska] program of the National Center for Culture in 2018, within which she debuted as a director with a performance titled SadaYakko presented at Komuna/Warszawa. She won the first edition of the New Situations Scene Artistic Residency at the Współczesny Theater in Szczecin in 2022, within which she realized a performance titled "Wiarołomna" [Faithless]. Nominated in the IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive NonFiction, IDFA DocLab: Phenomenal Friction, Amsterdam, 2023 for VR titled Close. Hana’s works and performative activities have been presented by, i.a.:

  • the Współczesny Theater in Szczecin
  • Komuna Warszawa
  • Zachęta National Gallery of Art
  • Cerulean Tower Noh Gakudo in Tokyo
  • Zero Base in Tokyo
  • Kunstbanken in Hamar (Norway)
  • and at the IDFA festival in Amsterdam.

As a performer, Hana has collaborated with, i.a.:

  • Marta Ziółek ("Pamela")
  • Katarzyna Wolińska ("Salvage")
  • Jadwiga Rodowicz-Czechowska ("Dziady/Soreisai")
  • the Małpeczki Collective — Maria Magdalena Kozłowska and Maria Toboła ("The Head of a Man")
  • Christiane Huber ("We Call Wonder")
  • Hagar Ophir ("Recalling History").

About "Thinking Through the Museum":

Thinking Through the Museum" (TTTM) program brings together international scholars, students, museum professionals, and community representatives from twenty museums, universities, and non-governmental organizations from Canada, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, and the USA. The team works in and beyond museums, co-creating exhibitions and design tools, and analyzing alternative forms of heritage activation, where diverse communities can create their own action agendas.

The National Heritage & Traumatic Memory (NHTM) team explores how art-based practices can support institutions in engaging communities through activating non-obvious places and meanings, as well as performative modes of presentation and participation. Working primarily in Poland, NHTM analyzes how the histories of colonialism, the Holocaust, and communism intersect, and develops new forms of reflection and practice in relation to the brutally lost historical diversity of this part of Europe. It develops context-sensitive concepts and tools to overcome the Western-centrism of critical museology. NHTM collaborates with other TTTM teams, organizes residencies for minority artists, including those from Jewish communities, communities and groups of the Romani, Ukrainians, Vietnamese, members of the African diaspora, LGBTQ+ groups, and refugees.



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