The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Artist Interview
Exposing his own body as a platform for art -- A look at the mixed-media performance art of Takao Kawaguchi
Takao Kawaguchi D.D.D.
Photo: Daiki Obara

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©Takao Kawaguchi
YCAM Artist in Residence Program true Tsuyoshi Shirai, Takao Kawaguchi, Takayuki Fujimoto
Choreography, performance: Tsuyoshi Shirai (Baneto/AbsT), Takao Kawaguchi (dumb type)
Lighting, director: Takayuki Fujimoto (Refined Colors/dumb Type)
Sep. 1, 2007 / Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media
Dec. 8-9, 2007 / 21st century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
Dec. 14-16, 2007 / Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse No. 1

Yubiwa Hotel Exchange
Director: Shirotama Hitsujiya
Cast: Yung Myong Fee, Takao Kawaguchi, Shirotama Hitsujiya
Oct. 4-7 / Theatre Iwato (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Oct. 13-14 / Kyoto University of Art and Design A studio
Oct. 19-20 / Concarino (Sapporo)
You certainly seem to be svery good at finding good people to collaborate. By nature, artistic collaborations are very difficult, and they are often predictable and boring. Putting two interesting talents together doesn’t necessarily bring an interesting result. On the contrary, it can often work negatively.
In your case, however, works like D.D.D. and Di Que No Ves (Say You Don’t See) (2003) with the artist Atsuhiro Ito who uses florescent light tubes, are excellent examples of what a collaboration should be like. Through these collaborations you have succeeded in finding new strength which you might not have found otherwise.

When I do a collaboration for my own works, I put a great amount of thought into how we each bring our own stuff, how we cut into each other, and combine them in order tobring a new dynamism into the work. When we did Di Que No Ves I honestly didn7t know what to do in front of Ito’s violently bright fluorescent light and sound, all I could do was to try spinning and spinning because I imagined the effect of the strongly augmented fluorescent light and electric noise would stimulat my sensory system to the limit, and eventually numb my senses and as I succumbed to the dizziness of the spinning I would fall to the ground.

What kinds of works will you do now?
I want to work with more people. And I want to use texts. I would like to work with texts and visual images and the body on the same level, I think there are a lot of possibilities.
Right now I am working on a new work titled “true / Honto no koto” for performance at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media. As director, Takayuki Fujimoto has brought in the contemporary dance artist Tsuyoshi Shirai, and he invited me in too, and I am looking forward to seeing howwe can work together.
I have also done a collaboration on a work called “Tablemind” with the sound artist Daito Manabe, who is also on this project “true.” I would like to work some more on piece.
After this, I will be working with the performance company called Yubiwa Hotel in their new project Exchange which will premiere in October this year. With Yung Myong Fee, an strong female dancer, and Yubiwa’s artistic director Shirotama Hitsujiya, I feel this is going to be something very different from anything I have ever done before, and therefore, challenging. I am very excited.
In terms of the direction of works for the future, I want to use a lot of different methods and narrative styles without concern for genre or methodologies. Of course, in the end you have to be selective of what you choose to, but I would like to be open to different media, styles, and methods, and find an expression that is unique to the chose medium. That is true for both collaborations and solo works. It may be the easiest to call what I do “performance” but I believe that in the end, something interesting can only be born where the method and the content are so one that they cannot be separated. Say, you come up with a new language of saying something, and that something can only be said in that language. That’s something I would like to explore. For me, the core is using the body for expression, but I want to pioneer forms of expression that transcend conventional sense of values.

In one sense, it is strange to have techniques that are limited to one genre and to be limited by what you can express within that framework. And I think that we have now reached the point whereartists today are expected to take on the challenge of discovering new possibilities in the realm of expression.
Yes. That is what is interesting about “contemporary” arts. There may be a question of whether or not it is contemporary in that sense, but I don’t see any need to create divisions such as “contemporary dance” or “contemporary theater.” In the visual arts as well, the boundaries are breaking down and architecture and art are now being fused into one. I believe what contemporary means is not that if you are a dancer you concentrate only on dancing but, in the end, it involves everything we do in this limited time we live in this world. In that sense, if art itself has embraced all the arts and become one genre already, we may as well be now at the stage where we questioned that genre too.
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