International Workshop

Artistic Experimentations for a New Society: Continuities and Ruptures in Japan before and after the War

Wanneer?: Maandag 23.9.2013 vanaf 14u30

Waar? Universiteit Gent, 6. verdieping Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

Topics and Speakers:

Genta OKAMOTO:  The Spirit in Experimental Stage: Takiguchi Shūzō and Jikken Kōbō

The Experimental Workshop (Jikken Kōbō, active 1951-ca.1957) was formed by young painters, photographers, composers, technicians, a pianist, and a poet, all in their twenties, and is known as an artistic group which anticipated the postwar Japan avant-garde movement. The numerous "experimentations" they conducted for the post-war new society - the transgression of existing genres' borders as well as a responsible use of the new technologies - qualify them as forerunners even outside of Japan. Yet, it is interesting to notice that their activities were supported by Takiguchi Shūzō (1903-1979), a prominent surrealist who had already been active during the pre-war period. While Takiguchi did not supervise the Experimental Workshop, he was the nominal parent of the group and the members of the group followed him as their "spiritual father". In this paper I will ponder the concept of "experimentation" Takiguchi and the members of the Experimental Workshop shared, on the background of prewar and postwar Japan.

Genta OKAMOTO is Associate Professor of Aesthetics at Okayama University, Japan. His research interests include history of philosophy, aesthetics and art theory with a focus on the Renaissance and the present day. He is the author of The Philosophy of Giordano Bruno: Towards a Plurality of Life (Jorudāno Burūno no Tetsugaku: Sei no Tayōsei e, Tokyo, Getsuyōsha, 2012 [in Japanese]). He has also translated into Japanese Giorgio Agamben’s Signatura rerum: Sul metodo (Jibutsu no Shirushi: Hōhō ni tsuite, translated with Atsushi Okada, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobō, 2011).

Ayako IKENO: The Two-dimensional Objects: ‘Plastic Poem’ by Kitasono Katué

The poet Kitasono Katué (Kitazono Katsue, 1902-1978) established experimental poetry as a style in prewar Japan under the heavy influence of foreign avant-garde artistic experience. Although, going on with his work, Kitasono crossed many genres such as illustration, book design, and photography, poetry remained until the end the focus of his activity. We could say that Kitasono played a very peculiar role in the history of Japanese avant-garde poetry.

In this paper, I will focus on Plastic Poem that he published in the après-guerre. A plastic poem is a piece of "poetry" made of different materials such as collages from periodicals or strings, shot with a camera as a photographic subject. After the war, Kitasono approached the international movement called concrete poetry. Though, he ended up taking a different way from concrete poetry which pursued the visuality of poetical creation.

Although in post-war Japan Kitasono's work was known in the field of plastic arts and design, he had not been the object of an extensive and proper critique in the world of poetry for a long time. In this paper, by means of the examination of Kitasono Katué's poetical practice and its critique, we want to reflect on the continuities and ruptures between pre-war and post-war periods in Japanese avant-garde art.

Ayako IKENO is Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) from 2012. Her major interests are in modern and contemporary Italian art, art theories and art criticism in the post-war period. Her main publications include "Morandi in the first monograph" (Saisho no Monografu no nakano Morandi), in Atsushi Okada (ed.),  Morandi no tegami, Misuzu Shobo, 2011, "The Memory of the Plaster Cast: A Genealogy of Pittura Metafisica in Italian Art in the 1970s," (Sekkozo no Kioku: 1970 nendai no Italia Bijyutsu niokeru Keijijyo Kaiga no Kioku, Hyosho, n.6, 2012).

Organized by Dr. Francesco Campagnola