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Nora Thompson on Manzanar | Eiko + Koma
Nora Thompson on Manzanar

Nora Thompson on Manzanar (May 2019)

We see two women approach within a vast landscape, one is old, one is young. The expansive beauty around them carries memories of something terrible, but it's strange how the sky and grass and mountains still look impressive, peaceful. We see two women sit in folding chairs, holding onto them with their hands as if to hold onto the present moment. We see flowers laid down - are they there to represent who had once been there, kept? Landscape, stuff of the earth, holding the past. We see the two women identifying themselves and their pasts, finding intersections in the wars of their families' countries. They hold onto the present by remembering "I am not them," they are not those who were interned. But they know that the past is underneath them, around them, between them when they remark, "I look like them." Between them lives the looming threat of the past ready to bubble up. The younger woman says she feels "dull outrage" here. We hear it in the persistent aching wind. We see it in the dumb beauty of the place. We feel the obvious wrongness of the past with the quiet, matter-of-fact-ness of two women sitting in chairs, unsurprised.