Archive for March, 2012

March 24, 2012

The Trial | Shuji Terayama

As part of my research for the Vietnam & Rethink projects,  I went to the ‘I Am a Terayama Shuji‘ symposium at Tate Modern yesterday.  It ended in a presentation of two of Terayama’s live action works bridging cinema and performance with the participation of Terayama’s original collaborator Henrikku Morisaki.  The Trial (1975) begins with a man hammering nails into a city street before normal social order collapses and the ‘disturbance’ spreads to an act of violent audience participation.  Terayama made this work for projection on a specially constructed screen and provides white leader at the end as an invitation for audience members to abandon their position as spectators and take possession of their own energies, hammering nails into the surface of the image (see images above).

Questions were an important part of the work of Shūji Terayama(1935–1983) whose striking creative work exists in a liminal space between fact and imagination. Terayama’s career recalls an eerie tale of Japanese folklore in which a face shifts to become a different face. An acclaimed filmmaker, poet, radio and stage dramatist, essayist, photographer and horseracing tipster (with no less than eight volumes of commentary to his name) Terayama was, in the words of theatre critic Akihiko Senda, ‘the eternal avant-garde’.

In an era when Japan’s underground was reaching a fever pitch, Terayama was a crucial player in a complex network of creative expression, encompassing such counter-cultural legends as singer Akihiro Miwa, photographer Daido Moriyama and graphic artist Tadanori Yokoo.

As a tribute to this ‘many-headed’ artist, Tate have curated an astonishing film and video programme of his trailblazing shifts through varied media and performance; Terayama always made work that was interrelated, often producing visionary and unexpected outcomes in whatever his chosen form.  You can find out more here.