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GAIJIN

Pamela Z with Butoh dancers:
Kinji Hayashi, Leigh Evans, and Shinichi Momo Koga

(video excerpts)

Gaijin is a full evening interdisciplinary performance work exploring the concept of foreignness. The work includes live electroacoustic music, text, multiple channels of large scale projected video, and butoh dance. The piece premiered at Theater Artaud in May of 2001 with Pamela Z on voice, processors, samples and BodySynth™, Butoh performers Kinji Hayashi, Leigh Evans, and Shinichi Iova Koga, an architectural set by Lauren Elder, video by Jeanne Finley + John Muse, and lighting by Elaine Buckholtz. Pamela Z's layered, dynamically varied score includes voice, processing, fragments of recorded interviews, and sampled sounds.

Pamela Z says about the piece:
Gaijin is a commonly used Japanese slang term for "foreigner". It is the (sometimes derogatory) shortened word for the (neutral) "Gaikokujin", which literally means "foreign-country-person". During the first six months of 1999, I lived as a Gaijin. I was in Tokyo on a residency granted by the NEA and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. It was a rich and rewarding experience, during which I learned a great deal. One of the most profound lessons was finding out what it is like to truly be an alien in the place where you live. Even though my stay was only 6 months, it made me wonder how it might feel to be in a similar but more permanent circumstance. I thought about all the "gaijin" who live in United States – people who feel like aliens either because they don't speak English, speak with an accent, or have an outward appearance that brands them as "other" in some way. I also thought about the many different levels on which one can be "alien" in their own world. I questioned the meaning of the word "foreigner" and began creating scenarios built around the concept of foreignness. The scenarios were also fueled by my Butoh studies in Yokohama with Sensei Kazuo Ohno. Naturally, these ideas became the seeds of a new performance work.

“Z's extraordinary acoustic sensibility… transforms everything from glottal stops
to ambient street noise into a strange and beautiful music.
The performance includes dancers whose Butoh-inspired movement
throughout provides a hypnotic, sensual, and poetic visual counterpoint.
Some exceptionally well-integrated video sequences by Jeanne Finley and John Muse
are combined with Lauren Elder's elegantly streamlined set
and Elaine Buckholtz's crystalline lighting to create a rich environmental fusion.”
– San Francisco Bay Guardian

Gaijin was made possible in part by the San Francisco Art Commission Individual Artist Grants program, The Zellerbach Family Fund, and Mrs. Ralph I. Dorfmann.


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Pamela Z Gaijin

Gaijin Other

Gaijin 2 Inner Faces
photos: Buzz Hays, Marion Gray

duration: 85 minutes

performers:
Pamela Z
voice & electronics
Kinji Hayashi butoh
Leigh Evans
butoh
Shinichi Iova Koga
butoh

composed by: Pamela Z

video: Jeanne Finley + John Muse

set design: Lauren Elder

lighting design: Elaine Buckholtz