Preview Talk: “The Arts as Collective Intelligence: Learning from the Collaborative Work of the 1960’s-1970’s”Talk

As a preview event for Kyoto Experiment: Kyoto International Performing Arts Festival 2016 Spring (opening March 5th, 2016), a special talk with artists from the official festival program will be held on November 9th.

The upcoming festival will present the work of Trisha Brown, who was a pioneer of postmodern dance in 1960’s America, a movement that transcended conventional notions of dance through its sophisticated experimentation and had a large influence across the performing arts world, including in Europe. In addition to Brown, other contemporary artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg collaborated together during this period, and became iconic for the impact they had on their respective artistic fields and society as a whole.

Parallel with these developments overseas, Japanese Butoh pioneers in the 1960’s, led by the likes of Tatsumi Hijikata, created work at places like Hijikata’s rehearsal space, Asbestos Hall, or the Sogetsu Art Center, during a time in which countless other contemporary talents from the worlds of dance, theater, music, cinema, art, photography, literature, and philosophy, gathered and worked across disciplines. These artists included Shuji Terayama, Juro Kara, Genpei Akasegawa, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Ikuya Kato, Shuzo Takiguchi, Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, Yukio Mishima, and many others.

Looking back at this situation not as a phenomenon specific to the period, but rather from a universal perspective, what were the relationships and connections between people from which this collaborative style of working emerged? Focusing on a different “collaboration” to the kind frequently touted today for mere publicity purposes, we can perhaps see something acutely interlinked with inevitability and the sense of the times.

This talk features two guests who are surely indispensable for such a discussion of this period, Akaji Maro and Yukichi Matsumoto, as well as Toshiki Okada, a more recent artist who has actively created theater work in collaboration with dancers and people from the visual arts. As part of Kyoto Experiment’s goal to be a festival that produces new work with artists from all over the world, the talk will explore themes important to artistic innovation.

Trisha Brown Dance Company, Wall Walk from Set and Reset in Dan Flavin’s Gallery
at the Lenbachhaus in Munich (Germany), July 2014. DAN FLAVIN: UNTITLED (FOR KSENIJA)
© Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München

Speakers: Toshiki Okada (chelfitsch), Yukichi Matsumoto, Akaji Maro (Dairakudakan)
Moderator: Yusuke Hashimoto (Program Director, Kyoto Experiment)
Date: 15:00–16:30 November 9, 2015
Venue: Multi-purpose Hall, Kyoto Art Center
546-2 Yamabushiyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto >>Access
Capacity: 50
Language: Japanese
Admission: Free admission
Reservations: No reservation required
*Live streaming on Ustream (TBC)

Guest Speakers:

Toshiki Okada
Born in Yokohama in 1973, Toshiki Okada founded chelfitsch in 1997. Five Days in March won the 49th Kishida Kunio Drama Award in 2005, while Air-Conditioner was a finalist for the Toyota Choreography Award 2005. His debut novel, The End of the Special Time We Were Allowed (2007), won the 2nd Oe Kenzaburo Award. Since 2012, he has served on the jury for the Kishida Kunio Drama Award. He published his first collection of theater theory in 2013. Five Days in March has been performed in 70 cities around the world. Starting 2016, he will direct work in the repertoire at Münchner Kammerspiele for three seasons.

Yukichi Matsumoto
Born in Kumamoto in 1946, Yukichi Matsumoto leads the theater company Ishinha. He majored in fine art at Osaka Kyoiku University and formed Ishinha in 1970. With the staging of the large-scale outdoor work Shonen-gai (“Boys Town”) in a container yard in Shiodome, Tokyo, he established his original style of theater known as “Jan-Jan Opera”. Since then he has frequently staged work outdoors, such as the “Drifting” series (1999-2002) and the “20th Century Trilogy” (2007-2010). He is the recipient of numerous awards.

Akaji Maro
Born in Nara Prefecture in 1943, Akaji Maro joined Juro Kara’s Situation Theater in 1965, where his work as a chimerical performer embodying Kara’s “Theory of the Privileged Body” had a great influence on 1960’s-70’s theater. Alongside his career as an actor, he started training with Butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata from 1966. In 1972, he founded Dairakudakan, pioneering a new style of Butoh dance as large-scale spectacle. Under the name Tenpu Tenshiki, he toured Japan, as well as France and America in 1982. In addition to being a Butoh artist, Maro is also an accomplished actor and director working across a wide range of the performing arts. He is the winner of numerous dance and other awards.