‘Queer Perspectives on Wartime Incarceration’

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Tina Takemoto in "Looking for Jiro" (Production still by Maxwell Leung)

Tina Takemoto in “Looking for Jiro” (Production still by Maxwell Leung)

SAN FRANCISCO — “Looking for Jiro Onuma: Queer Perspectives on Wartime Incarceration,” a free lecture and video screening with artist and scholar Tina Takemoto, will be presented on Saturday, April 26, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Union Bank Hospitality Room, located on the ground floor of the Japan Center at 1675 Post St. in San Francisco Japantown (enter from Peace Plaza, Post and Buchanan streets).

The event is sponsored the Japanese American National Library and moderated by Ben Kobashigawa, Ph.D., who teaches Asian American studies at San Francisco State University.

“Looking for Jiro Onuma” explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Queer accounts of Japanese American wartime history are rare because of the atypical structure of the incarceration camps organized by family units, the prevalence of intergenerational narratives, and dominant themes of loyalty, innocence, and civility.

Onuma, a gay Issei immigrant, was imprisoned by the federal government in central Utah, worked in the prison mess hall, and was an avid fan of homoerotic male physique magazines.

Onuma’s Topaz photographs, which reside at the GLBT Historical Society archive, might be the only known pictures of an adult gay Japanese American in the American concentration camps.

For this lecture, Takemoto will present her archival research on Onuma and show “Gentleman’s Gaman” and “Looking for Jiro,” two multimedia art projects that imagine how Onuma survived the isolation, boredom, humiliation, and heteronormativity of incarceration as a dandy gay bachelor from San Francisco.

Takemoto is an associate professor of visual and critical studies at California College of the Arts. She has exhibited internationally and received grants from Art Matters, the James Irvine Foundation, New Forms Regional Initiative and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her articles appear in Afterimage, Art Journal, GLQ, Performance Research, Radical Teacher, Theatre Survey, and Women and Performance.

Her film “Looking for Jiro” (2011) received the Best Experimental Film Jury Award at the Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Takemoto is board president of Queer Cultural Center. Info: www.ttakemoto.com

For more information on the event, call Karl Matsushita at (415) 567-5006.

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