Projects > Superstring Secrets Tokyo
Superstring Secrets: Tokyo

Three videos: two synchronized + one, rope by shredded papers, shredder, and Lambda print
Filmed by: Taro Aoishi
Sound designed by: Sous Chef
Technical supported by: Mitsuru Tokisato
Construction operated by: Yukari Hirano
Translated by: Ryan Holmberg
Though I was scheduled to continue Superstring Secrets project in Singapore and Taipei, those plans were postponed by the outbreak of COVID-19. I had no choice but to return to Tokyo, which I did in May. I started researching conditions in Tokyo under the pandemic instead. That is when I met some Kurdish people. While travel restrictions and stay- at-home orders were new to most Japanese, people like the Kurds are intimately familiar with limited freedom of movement. While applying for refugee status, for example, they may be given provisional release from the Japanese Immigration Bureau’s detention centers, but they are not allowed to leave the local city or prefecture without special permission. As a result, many of them arrange to meet friends or family members at places like bridges over rivers that separate one prefecture from the next. I was embarrassed that I had no idea something like this was happening in my own country. “Travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders are things already forced upon us,” one Kurdish man told me. With the hope that he would be part of my project, I went with him to the immigration office in Shinagawa, in southern Tokyo, to apply for a temporary travel permit. However, citing COVID-19, his application was denied. Of course, the Japanese government needs immigrants like the Kurds. During the lead-up to the postponed Olympics, for example, when buildings were being pulled down at breakneck speed in Tokyo, many demolition crews were run by Kurds.