Pokémon, Speed Racer, Anime, and American Culture Discussed October 2 at the Clark

For Immediate Release

September 08, 2008

Japanese imports like Pokémon, Speed Racer, Transformers, and other anime and manga (Japanese animation and comic books), plus Japanese fashion and food, have become incredibly popular in the United States. On Thursday, October 2, at 7 pm, Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S., will discuss the influx of Japanese art and fashion and how they translate into a new vision of American culture. The lecture is free and held at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.

Japanamerica is the first book that directly addresses the American experience with the Japanese pop phenomenon, covering everything from Hayao Miyazaki's epics, the burgeoning world of hentai, or violent pornographic anime, and Puffy Amiyumi, whose exploits are broadcast daily on the Cartoon Network, to literary novelist Haruki Murakami, and more. With insights from the artists, critics, readers, and fans from both nations, this book is as literate as it is hip, highlighting the shared conflicts as American and Japanese pop cultures dramatically collide in the here and now.

During the lecture, Kelts will expose what he describes in his book as the “Mobius strip” of intercultural exchange between Japan and the United States, beginning with the postwar American occupation of Japan, both militarily and culturally. Kelts will explore the explosion of interest in hot conceptual artists like Takashi Murakami, as well as the rise of the broader Asian region in the 21st-century American psyche and how the new Asian identity contains more American DNA than most realize.

Kelts is a half-Japanese American writer, editor, and lecturer who divides his time between New York and Tokyo. His book Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. was recently released in updated paperback editions in English and Japanese. He is also a contributing editor/writer to A Public Space and Adbusters magazines, and a guest lecturer at the University of Tokyo and Sophia University. He is currently co-director of a new anime lecture and screening series, Anime Masterpieces, launching in the U.S. this fall and winter. Kelts’s articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in Zoetrope, Playboy, Doubletake, Psychology Today, Bookforum, Salon, The Village Voice, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and The Japan Times, among others in both the U.S. and Japan. He has lectured at New York University, Rutgers University, and Barnard College, and he is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University. His forthcoming novel is called Access.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November through May. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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