Jamie Kruse Examines Ancient Japanese Festival and Implications for Western Culture

TEDC Affiliated Faculty Member, Jamie Kruse, an artist, designer, and Part-time Lecturer at Parsons, underwent intensive Japanese language immersion in Kyoto, Japan in the summer 2015, as part some of the new directions in her studio work and teaching language supported Sustainable Systems at Parsons. Her work in Japan was in part supported by the Tishman Environment and Design Center.While there, she conducted performative research related to the ancient O-Bon Festival and emergent Japanese daily life practices that highlight attunement to environmental change through aesthetic practice. For over 500 years Japanese people have held a festival each August in Kyoto called O-Bon (also know as the “festival of the dead”). This event honors the visiting spirits of deceased ancestors and welcomes them “back” for three days (via home altars and graves) and then “sends them off” with massive fires three days later during the Gozan no Okuribi (“five mountain send-off fire”), which are ignited on five mountainsides around the city. Professor Kruse attended this festival to gain a firsthand understanding of how this ancient ritual still invites and attracts contemporary humans to “be with” what is considered “gone.”Her interests are in developing aesthetic practices that assist humans (students, public etc.) in attuning to the changing material conditions presently unfolding around us. Her questions are if we can gracefully accept and adapt certain “limitations” in our lifestyles, while renewing our respect for other species and non-human forces? What does it take to be with what is right now passing into disappearance, or perhaps is already forever gone? She believes that Western cultures can benefit from cultivating more nuanced engagements with forces and dynamics of change.

Read about her thoughts on her project research:https://fopnews.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/what-does-it-take/https://fopnews.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/from-above-hiroshima/https://fopnews.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/signal-fires/https://fopnews.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/long-life-design-ddepartment-kyoto/
Image via International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2012