Your source for art news from the AGO and beyond.

The value of worldliness

In an era of polarization, how can we better understand each other? An upcoming AGO symposium featuring Miho Hatori explores mondialité, a theory of French thinker Édouard Glissant.

Miho Hatori

Miho Hatori. Image by Insa wagner. 

In a politically polarized era, how can we better understand, respect and relate to each other? On December 4, the AGO and Elegoa Cultural Productions will present From Glissant Unfixed and Unbound: a three-day symposium of talks, screenings and performances inspired by the groundbreaking theories of French thinker Édouard Glissant, who explored these ideas in his writings. In celebration of the symposium, we're bringing you the next installment of our experimental performance series AGO Live .

New York-based artist and producer Miho Hatori will share her Glissant-inspired piece, Salon Mondialité. This multidisciplinary experience mixes improvised sounds, ambient chanting and a video installation, which all combine to uniquely reference Glissant’s theory of mondialité, a theory of situating ourselves in relation to the world. In anticipation of Hatori’s arrival at the AGO, we got in touch with her to find out more. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

AGO: Glissant's groundbreaking ideas have had an impact on many people over the years. When did you first discover his work, and why did it resonate with you so deeply? 

Hatori: I think about three years ago, I saw Édouard Glissant's name in an interview of Hans Ulrich Obrist. Then I found a conversation piece from the 1980s between him and a Japanese author, Shuichi Kato. It really clicked with me. At that time I was looking for a definition that fit my project, New Optimism. It was representative of the energy and consciousness I felt at a young age, right before Japan went fully into globalization mode. Even though I was a little kid when it happened, I saw people’s collective energy changing/disappearing slowly. I think what I saw was “globality" as put by Glissant. 

I'm not from the Caribbean [Glissant was born in Martinique], but I felt a strong bond with his theory. An ex-roommate grew up in the Caribbean and introduced me to that part of the world. Since having visited a few places there I loved them all, but Glissant gave me another dimension of understanding the region. He opened the door to think about my home country Japan as well, helping me to think about my country and my personal identity. Also knowing that there is an Asian community in the Caribbean gave me another scope, given my Asian identity.

AGO: Salon Mondialité uses vocals, video projection and sound design to create a very captivating experience. What are some specific ways these various elements were inspired by Glissant's concept of mondialité?

Hatori: Glissant is not here on this earth anymore, so the performance and creation is dedicated to his mondialité concept.

After I read his writings, the way I see everything changed. For example, I saw the slave huts in Bonaire. There is a big obelisk for slave ships at the empty beach. At that spot the obelisk became so stunning with colour and light as the sunset began, then flamingos were flying by. It is brutal, but the landscape is so beautiful. That moment motivated me to make Salon Mondialité. Luckily, I had been collecting footage on my Caribbean trips, so I decided to use them. I wanted to express it with sensory sounds rather than an overly theoretical way. I wanted the audience to connect his ideas with something other than words.

What do you hope people take away from Salon Mondialité? Do you anticipate they will leave with a deeper interest in Glissant? 

Hatori: I hope so. He left us an amazing gift. This project is my perspective from what I learned and how I was inspired by him, but if I can inspire someone else, I will be very happy. I am putting my own threads together from what I learned from Glissant and the dedication of the nature/landscape of the Caribbean. It is connecting many things, not only human beings, but a whole relationship with nature as well. 

Don’t miss From Glissant Unfixed and Unbound, happening December 5 – 7 in Jackman Hall, with exclusive performances of Miho Hatori’s Salon Mondialité on the 6th and 7th.

Admission to the AGO Collection and all special exhibitions is always free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 and under.

Be the first to find out about AGO exhibitions and events, get the behind-the-scenes scoop and book tickets before it’s too late.
You can unsubscribe at any time.