Commons Forum #3
“Pluralizing the World: The World in Eastern Thought”

  • Forum
  • Online participation
©︎Ho Tzu Nyen

What does the commonly-used word “World” actually mean? The words for “World” in Western cultures and the “世界” of Eastern cultures may seem to refer to the same concept, but perhaps they are fundamentally different. How can we redefine the world by intentionally contrasting the singular “World,” a concept spread through the processes of modernization and Westernization, with the plural “Worlds”?
In this forum, an expert in Eastern and Western philosophies will provide a lecture on this seemingly self-evident concept of “World,” as a lead up to Theater der Welt. While referring to concrete examples of Asian artists and their creations, we would like to open up a multifaceted discussion on the “worldview” of Eastern thought that underpins their works.

Part 1: Keynote lecture
Takahiro Nakajima (Professor, University of Tokyo)

Part 2: Discussion
Panelists | Ho Tzu Nyen (Artist), Saodat Ismailova (Artist), Takahiro Nakajima
Moderators | Kyoko Iwaki (Theatre and Performance Lecturer at University of Antwerp), Chiaki Soma (Director of Theater Commons Tokyo)


Takahiro Nakajima
Professor of Chinese philosophy and world philosophy at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo, Japan. Director of East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts. After working as an associate professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, he assumed his current position.
His research focuses on East Asian philosophy in comparison with inter-East Asian and Western philosophy. He is working on creating a new “World Philosophy” platform and reexamining Chinese and Japanese philosophy. In addition, he launched the Institute of East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts, where Peking University and the University of Tokyo are conducting joint research and education.
His publications include “Philosophy in Humanities” (Iwanami Shoten, 2009), “Praxis of Co-existence: State and Religion” (University of Tokyo Press, 2011), “Philosophy of the Evil: The Imagination of Chinese Philosophy” (Chikuma Selected Books, 2012), “Language qua Thought” (Iwanami Gendai Zensho, 2017), “History of Chinese Philosophy” (Chikuma-shobo, 2022), etc.

Ho Tzu Nyen
Ho Tzu Nyen makes videos, installations and performances that often begin as engagements with historical and theoretical texts. A plethora of historical references dramatised by musical scores and allegorical lighting make up the pillars of Ho Tzu Nyen’s complex practice. Features in their own right, each work unravels unspoken layers of Southeast Asian histories whilst equally pointing to our own personal unknowns.
Recent exhibitions of his work have been held at the Hammer Museum (2022), Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (2021) and Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] (2021). Together with Taiwanese artist Hsu Chia-wei, he curated ‘The Strangers from Beyond the Mountain and the Sea,’ the 7th Asian Art Biennale, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. From 2015 to 2016, he was a DAAD resident in Berlin.

©Matthew Teo

Saodat Ismailova
Saodat Ismailova is an Uzbek filmmaker and artist graduated from Tashkent State Art Institute in Uzbekistan and Le Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts in France. Her films and video installations were presented in Biennale of Venice, Berlinale IFF, Rotterdam IFF, CPH DOX etc. Works of Saodat Ismailova are in collection of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Centre Pompidou, Paris and Almaty Museum of Arts, Kazakhstan and private collections.
In 2022 Saodat Ismailova participated in 59th Biennale of Venice’s main exhibition “Milk of Dream” and presented new work at documenta fifteen for which has also initiated Davra collective from Central Asia. In 2022, Ismailova received The Eye Art & Film Prize, Amsterdam.

©Rinat Karimov

Kyoko Iwaki
Kyoko Iwaki is a Tenure-tracked Lecturer of Theatre and Performance Studies at University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on Japanese and European theatre of environmental, feminist, and more-than-human philosophies with strong investment in Buddhism. Kyoko obtained a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2017. After her completion of PhD, she became a Visiting Scholar at The Segal Center, City University of New York. Prior to entering academia, she has worked over a decade as a theatre critic contributing to Asahi Shimbun Newspaper. From 2021, she is an Associate Editor of “Performance Research.” Her contribution to publications includes “A History of Japanese Theatre” (Cambridge University Press), “The Routledge Companion to Butoh Performance” (Routledge), “Okada Toshiki and Japanese Theatre” (Performance Research) among others.

Chiaki Soma
Before establishing Arts Commons Tokyo in 2014, Soma was the inaugural Program Director of Festival/Tokyo, where she served from spring 2009 to 2013. She has produced or curated global projects that transect categories of theater, contemporary art, and community-engaged art. She was the recipient of the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France’s Minister of Culture in 2015. Since 2017, she has served as the Chairperson of the Theater Commons Tokyo Executive Committee, as well as its Director. She was the Curator for the Aichi Triennale 2019. She is the recipient of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs’ 71st Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize in 2021. Since 2021, she has been the General Producer of Toyooka Theater Festival 2021, and the Curator of Aichi Triennale 2022. She was appointed as the Program Director of Theater der Welt 2023 in Germany.



March 4th [Sat] / 19:30–21:30

Performance times

120 min.



How to participate

Please access the program via the link on the dedicated page sent upon purchase of your pass.

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Japanese (with English interpretation)