[:ja]Reinventing Conflict in Everyday Life
By Jong Pairez
12 September 2020
I have not been actively participating in the activities of Kosaten since the past two years. It is because my day job as a service worker has completely taken over my time. The precarious work in the IT industry demands so much energy and time. This is perhaps the reason why I am a bit detached with the development of Kosaten recently.
Kosaten is a cross-platform community space and safe space for different minorities in Tokyo. It started as a women-run art project but eventually evolved into a long-term project that aims to bring together different people from all walks of life. From the website, Kosaten is described as a place of meaningful conflict and a public crossing for everyone. As a practicing artist who is critical of a stereotypical art world, Kosaten was a perfect place for me to develop my unconventional practice, which blurs the line between art and life. In fact in 2016 this is where I have launched my tactical media project with the help of fellow Kosaten participants. In this project we built Radio Kosaten – an Internet radio platform that has engaged different minoritarian people together. But more than an art project, Radio Kosaten was also an experiment in artistic research and curatorial practice. Participants in this tactical media project have pursued their own research interests and together we have experimented with autodidactic curation, that is interconnecting our different interests into a non-narrative radio production with the aim of tackling precariousness and social breakdown in Japanese society. The climax of this project was the weeklong radio event in 2017. This curatorial event included panel discussions, presentations, and sound performances. The event was participated by local artists, activists, unionists, and academics. I have documented and written the entire project as my post-graduate thesis.
Conflict from the Back-end
During the process and from the back-end of the said project there were many undeniable challenges. As a foreigner in Japan I have the disability to speak the local language. This is the real challenge that I have to face from my side – the language. Although there were friends who helped me with translating to fill the gap, I have to accept the fact that the monolinguist nature of the Japanese language itself was the core of the conflict from my end because it refuses to translate the other.
Coming from a multilingual culture, in which I could only speak two of the major languages, it is a commonplace to translate everyday. This simply means that from my context I have to code my meaning and decode the meaning from the other beyond the limitation of language. In other words this tacit knowledge anticipates the chance of misunderstanding in the process of interaction, therefore, translation beyond language is necessary from both sides.
Fortunately, as the project continued, the dissolution of the predominant language (Japanese) upon the participation of other ethno-linguistic individuals became an advantage in the entire process of interaction, because the real problem of misunderstanding has necessitated everyone to translate and decode. Everybody became a translator on their own, which re-invented conflict in a productive sense. But, this was only temporary.
Afterall, as foreigners we were only trying to relate our different contexts from a peculiar problem in Japanese society. Therefore, in the end, a predominant language should take place to properly understand it. And naturally the procedures behind it has to exclude accordingly.
I may be detached from the current development in Kosaten, however, the valuable learning experience from Kosaten continues to guide me in my present situation. Therefore, Kosaten extends to my own personal space and carries forward in reinventing conflict in everyday life.