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Futon or the Quilt


video, 6:55

Camera operator - Paige Smith

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Futon or the Quilt explores the process of grappling with something one has read and translating that information, always imperfectly, into one’s own circumstances. Featuring passages read out loud from Tayama Katai’s semi-autobiographical story 蒲団 (The Quilt), it centers the ways the middle-aged writer and protagonist portrays his student Yoshiko as a 'modern girl' — an early 20th century media sensation that depicted young Japanese women as copiers of European fashions and ideologies. The protagonist lectures his student on writers such as Turgenev, Ibsen, and Geothe while suggesting that she should learn to act and think like their women characters. 


Futon or the Quilt emphasizes the body and the ways that books become sites where human bodies and textual bodies meld together. There is the body of text, Yoshiko's body as described by the protagonist-narrator, and the artist's body present as a pair of hands and the reading voice. The act of reading out loud folds them into one another in unsteady scenes that complicate the power imbalances imbued in ideas of original and copy, author and reader.

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