A Tea Ceremony by Keiko Nakada Sokei

Tea Ceremony Keiko Nakada Sokei
November 11, 2010 - 6:00pm
The USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery

SEN Rikyu, the 16th-century tea master who perfected the Way of Tea, was once asked to explain what this Way entails. He replied that it was a matter of observing but seven rules: Make a satisfying bowl of tea; Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently; Provide a sense of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer; Arrange the flowers as though they were in the field; Be ready ahead of time; Be prepared in case it should rain; Act with utmost consideration toward your guests.

According to the well-known story relating the dialogue between Rikyu and the questioner mentioned above, the questioner was vexed by Rikyu's reply, saying that those were simple matters that anyone could handle. To this, Rikyu responded that he would become a disciple of the person who could carry them out without fail.  This story tells us that the Way of Tea is basically concerned with activi ties that are a part of everyday life, yet to master these requires great cultivation. In this sense, the Way of Tea is well described as the Art of Living.

As seen within Rikyu's seven rules, the Way of Tea concerns the creation of the proper setting for that moment of enjoyment of a perfect bowl of tea. Everything that goes into that serving of tea, even the quality of the air and the space where it is served, becomes a part of its flavor. The perfect tea must therefore capture the 'flavor' of the moment -- the spirit of the season, of the occasion, of the time and the place. The event called chaji -- that is, a full tea gathering -- is where this takes place, and where the Way of Tea unfolds as an exquisite, singular moment in time  shared by the participants.     Thanks to Urasenke School of Tea: http://www.urasenke.or.jp/texte/chado/chado1.html

The IGM Art Gallery chose to replay this multi-discipline, multi-venue project first introduced in Japan and the US as part of a moment of reflection during the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. The wounds of war and the complexities of empathy and loyalties came to the forefront to tinge a celebration of the end of war on the American side and spotlighted the lingering pain of those who paid the price for its definitive act, the dropping of the atomic bomb in two Japanese cities. In 1995 when this exhibition traveled to Los Angeles, Honolulu, Berkeley, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Osaka and back to LA, it evoked discussion and reflection on issues of war and peace. Now, at the 65th anniversary of WWII, we introduce the project in an entirely different context and in a world caught up with life and death issues: not so much those of war and peace, but of sustainable options to oil. Nuclear energy is very much at the forefront of these discussions. The role and use of fissile nuclear material is currently being vigorously debated in the New START treaty talks on the Senate floor and considered, both in terms of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. This debate opens a window for the informed voice of the people to speak out using the tools of our democratic system to ensure a bright future.

The artist and curator designed this revisited project to, again, provoke soul searching and discussion. Just as the first time around, this revisiting of the Project includes public forums and an educational component, so the collective meanings of these tragic events will be transferred to a new generation. All the IGM Gallery exhibitions are designed to empower students, young professionals and community leaders to learn about issues that preceded and resulted from such historical events as the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings, then to take action toward a positive, tangible impact in both their local communities as well as in the lives of all men, women, and children worldwide.

Of necessity, every historical period seeks a central model of understanding to cope with the areas where social order has devolved and is most in need of renewing. Art differs from propaganda in that its message emerges gradually and with complexity by being filtered through the hearts and minds of the observer. This exhibition helps viewers explore global practices that impact on the environment, health and social order. It touches all of the core curatorial criteria of the IGM Gallery: Environmental Consciousness, Sustainable Development and Technology, Health, Peace and Security. Many components of the actions of individuals and governments are deeply interconnected. So too, are the myths, parables, visual and performing arts from all peoples throughout time, deeply interconnected and able to
prompt solutions. 

The exhibition, open to the public from November, 2009 – February, 2010 at the Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery, is available to travel to other corporate and nonprofit spaces after February, 2010. We hope to provide a clear picture of the scope and potential for mutually beneficial projects. Local and global citizen diplomacy can be initiated through various points of entry to this open-minded discussion and the resource sharing opportunities focused on Global Development and Clean Energy!

The following quote from the media underscores the importance, delicacy and complexity of the process to raise awareness of appropriate due process to prevent unintended consequences:

The Senate Foreign Relations committee approved a resolution to ratify the New START nuclear reductions treaty with Russia on Thursday, September 16, 2010, overcoming objections by Sen. James Risch about new top secret intelligence and after reaching a compromise over strategic posture with Sen. Jim DeMint. The vote was 14-4, with all Democrats voting to approve the resolution along with Republican Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roger Wicker (RMS), and Risch voted no. The compromise version changes DeMint's amendment from an "understanding" to a "declaration," which makes it non-binding. The compromise version also no longer says the U.S. is "committed" to building an expansive all encompassing missile defense system; the new language says the U.S. is "free to reduce the vulnerability to attack by constructing a layered missile defense system capable of countering missiles of all ranges." The compromise also removes language that makes it seem that missile defense should be aimed at Russia.In a concession to DeMint, Kerry agreed to language that now says "policies based on mutually assured destruction can be contrary to the safety and security of both countries and the United States and the Russian Federation share a common interest in moving cooperatively as soon as possible from a strategic relationship based on mutually assured destruction."

-Quoted from “The Cable” Reporting Inside the Foreign Policy Machine