Meiro Koizumi

Born 1976 | Gunma ken
Lives and works Yokohama

Meiro Koizumi is a video and performing artist based in Yokohama, Japan. Theater of Life 2023, which Koizumi conceived for the 14th Gwangju Biennale, focuses on the past and present of the Koryo-in (the Korean diaspora in Central Asia) community in Gwangju by tracing the history of the Korean Theatre. After it was established in 1932 in Kazakhstan, the theatre played an important role in formulating the identity of Koryo-in throughout the 20th century. Using photo documents from the Korean Theatre as a starting point, 15 young people from the Koryo-in community in Gwangju were asked to create a new play in a two-day drama workshop, which took place on a theatre stage. The young people from the community are struggling to learn the Korean language and find their place in Korean society. According to the Russian avant-garde playwright and theorist Nikolai Evreinov, humans have a ‘theatrical impulse’, that is an impulse to transform one’s own environment and identity through ritual and role-playing in everyday life. By following Evreinov’s theory, the workshop aimed to help these young people find ways to actively transform their own identities against a backdrop of the burden of history and their struggles, through giving new meanings to the historical images that they were working from. The whole workshop was filmed on cameras, and the footage was developed into a five-channel video projection.

Meiro Koizumi, Theater of Life 2023. Five-channel video installation. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, Annet Gelink Gallery and MUJIN-TO Production, Commissioned by the 14th Gwangju Biennale and Han Nefkens Foundation. Installation view, 14th Gwangju Biennale (2023). Image courtesy Gwangju Biennale Foundation. Photo: glimworkers