Kevin B. Chen
MACRO WAVES
Pt. 1: “Shikata ga nai” / but it can be helped. (detail), 2018
Mixed media installation

The Japanese phrase “Shikata ga nai,” translated as “it cannot be helped,” is typically used to describe a common attitude among Japanese people when having to confront unavoidable, tragic situations. During WWII, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps along the West Coast of the U.S. Many Nisei (2nd generation Japanese American) chose to keep
their internment experiences to themselves rather than “repeating the tragedy again.” However by not telling their stories to younger generations, silence takes a place within this history.

Pt. 1: “Shikata ga nai” / but it can be helped. is part of MACRO WAVES’ ongoing video installation series exploring intergenerational experiences. The first part of this series focuses on the personal experiences of MACRO WAVES member Tina Kashiwagi, who is Yonsei (4th generation Japanese American), and her grandmother’s sister, Christine Umeda, who is Nisei and experienced internment herself. Through intimate conversations between the two, the question of how the trauma of internment is passed down through generations is posed, breaking the silence of “Shikata ga nai.”

Culture Catalyst: Celebrating the Art and Legacy of the Neighborhood Arts Program

Co-curated with Jaime Cortez

April 27 - June 9, 2018
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Phillip Maisel
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