Photo: Gaku Tsutaja, The Loyalty Hearing, 2019, sumi ink and gesso on canvas, courtesy of the artist, copyright the artist.

Beautiful Sky Golf Course

October 2 2020 - December 19 2020

Beautiful Sky Golf Course is a multi-media video installation project by Gaku Tsutaja. This piece is part of a series called World War II Club which is a satirical reimagining of the Japanese American experience during wartime internment.

Tsutaja was part of the Open AIR Artist-in-Residence program during the summer of 2019. During that time, she set up her studio on the grounds of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. She chose to work in the judge’s chamber of the restored courthouse, which was the location for a series of loyalty hearings in the 1940s. The U.S. Department of Justice used Fort Missoula as an Alien Detention Center and held over 1,000 first-generation Japanese immigrants from 1941 to 1944. The loyalty hearings were conducted in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor to determine if individuals of Japanese descent presented a threat to “national security.” 

 Tsutaja created eight paintings that highlight the dark history of Fort Missoula during her residency and on-site studio. Beautiful Sky Golf Course uses these paintings as backdrops for the characters in her animation to bring the detention center to life. Tsutaja created the characters after learning about how the Japanese internees made a golf course for themselves while waiting to be released. Tsutaja uses golf clubs with animal heads in the video as stand-ins for the figureheads like lawyers, politicians, and other authority positions, while the golf balls represent Issei, or the first-generation Japanese immigrants who were forcefully detained.

Read more in the press release. Beautiful Sky Golf Course is on loan from Ulterior Gallery in New York, New York. MAM is grateful to the artist and the gallery for lending this piece. 

Watch the video below to see what Gaku is currently working on in her studio in New York: