Chair Person: Rie Saito
Presenters: Miyuki Endo & Machiko Kusahara
What was the critical point of Japanese postwar avant-garde art when re-looking today’s art scene? How have they influenced contemporary art, culture, and society until present?
Through these presentations, the importance of Japanese postwar avant-garde art will be clarified and how they affected the current art will be discussed in detail. Three topics will be presented to reconsider the body image in contemporary arts, especially from the view of media and the art as a performance. The work of Atsuko Tanaka from GUTAI, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi and the work of Kenji Yanobe will be examined.
The first presentation will mainly focus on the work of Atsuko Tanaka (1932-2005), one of the main artists of GUTAI movement that occurred in western region of Japan in 1950’s. By analyzing her works from cultural and sociological context, fluidity and ambiguity in gender and the body within the context of current media art will be examined. Re-thinking early emergence of Japanese postwar art and focusing on the genealogy of contemporary avant-garde art will bring a new meaning in a present new media art. Moreover, Japanese multimedia art performance group called “Dumb Type” will be discussed from the current media context to clarify the ambiguous body image in Japanese contemporary art.
The second presentation will focus on Japanese artist Kenji Yanobe (1965) and his work. Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, 03, 11 caused serious damage and shocked all over the world. Besides radiation leak from nuclear power plant reminds us the incident of Chernobyl in 1986, and also the radioactive contamination to neighboring area is terribly serious in Japan. Moreover from atomic bomb in 1945 and thermonuclear test of Bikini Atoll in 1954, to nuclear-power disaster in this time, it is difficult to talk about Japanese country and culture without problem of nuclear power. In this presentation, Kenji Yanobe, who considers surviving in the world contaminated by radiation and tries to express his idea in his work, will be introduced. Many artists made action to express anti-atomic power after 1950s in Japan. Referring to the history of them, this presentation discusses body image in his performance and installation.
The third presentation will focus on Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, who is internationally known as a video artist, has played a major role in Japanese media art history. Already in 1950s he was a central figure in Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) along with Toru Takemitsu and others experimenting the latest technology of the time in their own performances and exhibitions as well as for experimental ballet theaters. After designing a most innovative pavilion at the 1970 Osaka World Exposition he co-founded Video Hiroba that invited people to use video to express their own voices. This presentation discusses intentional absence of his own body in Yamaguchi’s works in contrast to the demonstration of body-ness among his contemporary avant-garde artists such as buto dancers. Creating an environment (a “garden”) for the viewers/participants to be explored using their own bodies was his concept, which led to the emergence of interactive art in Japan.
- Rie Saito Ph. D. candidate, WASEDA University (Tokyo, Japan) Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Global COE Associate Fellow at The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University
- Miyuki Endo is enrolled in master’s course of the graduate school of Letters, Arts and Science, in Waseda University, Japan. Her research area is moving and still image in contemporary art, and also the relationship between arts and society.
- Machiko Kusahara is Professor at the School of Culture, Media and Society, Waseda University, and Visiting Scholar at the Art | Sci Center, UCLA. Her research focuses on the interplay between media culture, technology, and society. Since mid 1980s she curated and wrote internationally in the field of digital art, and served as a jury for Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, among many others. She has written about both early visual media and contemporary media art. Her writings have been published internationally. Prof. Kusahara holds Ph.D from University of Tokyo.