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Keeping Alive the Memory of Hiroshima

An Interview with Med-O and Madrone

In August 2000, several Reclaiming folks and other artists traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to take part in a Peace Day commemoration planned for August 6, the 55th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

They were invited by Takishi Tanemori, a survivor of Hiroshima whose family was killed in the bombing. Since the bombing, Takishi, who now lives in the U.S., has dedicated himself to a worldwide mission of forgiveness.

Med-O was one of the participants in the event. “I did a show at 848 (performance space in San Francisco) in 1999 where the theme was a remembrance of Hiroshima Day. We put out a call for visual artists and Takishi responded. After that, I really wanted to work with him again, and I knew the Peace Day would be incredible event.”

The performers, dressed in white, walked in silence through the crowd. Once onstage, they did a rhythmic piece using rocks, then danced a climax symbolic of the atomic bombing.

Reclaiming teacher Madrone said she aimed at “a creative piece reflecting the horrors of war through art and dance. It was also a way to pay respect to Takishi. My dance was for him.”

Med-O, who has taken part in direct action protests as well as many performance pieces, does some sort of performance or observance every year on Hiroshima Day. “As an American,” he said, “I want to make sure it is remembered. It was such a horrific moment in human history, I don’t want anyone to forget.

“I would participate in a protest if there were one going on. I’m interested in protest if there are a lot of people and you can get attention. If not, then cultural work is needed. I’m reaching out to those who are interested and those who simply come across us.”

It’s a challenge to reach people who don’t want to face that history, Med-O said. “A common response is, ‘hey man, don’t bum me out — I’m trying to have a good time.’ So how can we be responsible and aware (as artists), yet not guilt-trip people, actually create something that is attractive to them?

“It’s scary and lonely, but whenever I push myself, it is so rewarding. At the Peace Day in Santa Fe, hundreds of people showed up and wanted to be present with that memory.”

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