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The Refrain

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.

Germany / Korea 2015, 65 min

by

Angela Melitopoulos