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A refrain consists of sound, words, gestures, signs, images which return on themselves, restart themselves, repeat themselves, and through their repetition capture, intensify, and give consistency to the forces and affects of the cosmos.

The islands of Okinawa (Japan) and Jeju (Korea) are two important points on a strategic curve of the ‘military umbrella’. They are occupied by US bases, or – as it is now defined – shared Japanese/US and Korean/US bases. The post-war history of Okinawa and Jeju triggered a strong anti-war and peace movement in the East Chinese Sea, pleading for de-militarization and calling for a trans-national protest against the current intensification of an industrialized militarization of the archipelago. Protests including musical performances take place every day in front of the heavily guarded military bases.
In 14 “refrains” recorded on Jeju Island, in Paju, Seoul, and Uijeongbu city in Korea and on Okinawa and Iwai Island in Japan, The Refrain focuses on these performances and the social function of music in the islander societies. Memory and collectivity is constructed in songs sung when working the land, farming, and harvesting by reactivating pre-modern cosmologies. But it is also an important factor in decolonization.

Angela Melitopoulos, born in 1961 in Munich, is an artist in time-based arts, producing video essays, installations, documentaries, photographs, and sound-works. Her work engages with issues of duration, mobility, memory, mnemotechnics, and micropolitics.
Maurizio Lazzarato is an independent sociologist and philosopher who researches on immaterial work, ontology of work, cognitive capitalism, and “postsocialist” movements. He also writes on cinema, video, and new production technologies for images.
Angela Anderson, born in Peshtigo, USA, lives and works in Berlin. She has worked in video art and film since 2006, producing multi-channel installations, sound pieces, and film works which trespass the borders of fiction and documentary.
Aya Hanabusa is a film director based in Tokyo. She established her own company, Yashiho film company, in 2014.

Production: Angela Melitopoulos, Berlin
Director: Angela Melitopoulos in cooperation with Maurizio Lazzarato, Angela Anderson, Aya Hanabusa
Camera: Angela Melitopoulos, Angela Anderson
Format: 4-channel video installation, Color
Running time: 65 min
Language: Korean, Japanese, English

Photo: © Angela Melitopoulos

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur