The Imperial Body


This volume by photographer Fiona Amundsen (New Zealand) brings together three interrelated series: Operation Magic (2012), Most Honourable Son (2013) and See You at Yasukuni (2014).

The series focus, respectively, on: the sites of the 1941 Japanese initiated Pearl Harbour attack; the plight of Ben Kuroki, the only American of Japanese descent permitted to fight in aerial combat in the Asia Pacific Theatre of WWII: and the Tokyo based Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to those who died whilst serving the Emperor. Utilizing photography and moving-image these artworks explore how images are able to fracture paradigmatic socio-cultural histories and narratives associated with how the Asia Pacific Theatre is officially memorialized and narrated across parts of Asia and the Pacific—the focus concerns what sits outside of known official narratives and memorialization.

The Imperial Body includes four essays, which like the artworks provide counter experiences to historicized narratives of the Asia Pacific Theatre. Cassandra Barnett’s essay “Strangeface: A Sovereign Countenance,” examines the racial prejudice Ben Kuroki faced in relation to present-day post-colonial ideas of cultural hybridity, identity, belonging and difference. An essay by Tim Corballis, “Memories of the Invisible,” develops the artworks’ relationships to ideas of empire building in relation to the contemporary geo-politics of the Asia Pacific region. The third essay, “Spirit Photograph,” is jointly written by both Corballis and Fiona Amundsen and explores photography in relationship to specific theoretical positioning which concern ideas of the spirit of a place, time, or world. The final essay, also written by Amundsen, critically reflects on ethics in relation to working with complex, culturally specific histories and trauma experiences.

Designed by Narrow Gauge, Layla Tweedie-Cullen

Published by split/fountain, 2015

88 pages, 9.125 × 11.875 inches

ISBN 9780473325756