Video, 2 min, 16:9, Stereo
In September 2017, I accidentally stayed at the hotel ‘Metropolis’ during my visit to Kaunas, Lithuania, not knowing that this hotel was a historical place where Japanese consul Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara and his family stayed for several days before leaving Kaunas.
Having been assigned as an Acting Consul for the Consulate General of Japan in Lithuania, Sugihara and his family resided in Kaunas in August 1939 - merely one week before the invasion of Poland by Germany which marked the beginning of World War II. He is remembered as a historical figure in Japan, as he issued numerous transit visas for Jewish refugees to escape from Nazi persecution. They escaped to the East through the Soviet Union, Japan, and to the Netherland island territories located in the Caribbean Sea, ignoring instructions by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. After Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, he received a transfer order to Berlin. He incinerated all the important documents in the consular office and moved to hotel Metropolis. He kept writing thousands of transfer visas by hands, in the hotel, at the station, in the train, until the train departed for Berlin.
By unexpectedly tracing back his footprint from Berlin to Kaunas, I imagined how he and his family stayed in this hotel. I had an image in my mind, in which thousands of transit visas flutter in the hotel room in the darkness. I have conceptualised it as a video work, a conversation with Sempo and his family, his wife’s interview voice is juxtaposed with the moving landscape imagery as it would seem from a train window to Berlin.