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Action, Mavo, Futurismo, DVL...

Curated by Asakusa and Kounosuke Kawakami
With Support by Professor Toshiharu Omuka, The University of Tsukuba

アクション、マヴォ、未来派美術協会、DVL ほか

キュレーション: アサクサ、川上幸之介
協力: 筑波大学 五十殿利治教授

03 MAR - 03 APR 2016

Asakusa is delighted to announce the archival exhibition “1923”, tracing the footsteps of early Japanese avant-garde artists active during the 1920s in East Tokyo. During the apocalyptic aftermath of a devastating earthquake, a few visionary pioneers initiated interdisciplinary exploration beyond conventional art practices. Informed by Constructivism and Dada, they incorporated new media and techniques such as photo collage, junk assemblage and Happening-like performance, and collectively expanded the scope of their practice through poetry, theatrical dance, architecture and city planning. The period also marked the first point of reference in Japanese art history where the role of avant-garde was played in the struggle for political reform. Gathered from scarce materials in the digital archive, publications and a slide show of images, the exhibition seeks to reconstruct the trajectories of their activities and to illustrate how their impetus to the demystification of art was channelled through collective actions.

In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake shook the landscape of Tokyo and shattered its material culture. The same year, artist Tomoyoshi Murayama, a leading presence in the Taisho New Art movement, returned from Berlin and founded art collective Mavo (1923-25) who supported the challenge by Dada and the Merz to integrate culture, politics and everyday life. After their first exhibition at Sensoji Shrine in Asakusa (1923), Mavo embarked on a direct and straight intervention to the street through “the Barrack Decoration” – a series of actions repainting the facade of temporary housing and remaining buildings after the quakes. At the architectural exhibition “Plans for the Reconstruction of the Imperial Capital” (Takenodai Display Hall, Ueno, 1924), they presented a city model---a bare assemblage of found debris---responding to Dada’s decadent aesthetics after WWI. The “MAVO” journal was launched to illustrate these far-reaching activities, and included poetic configurations by Kyojiro Ogihara, models for stage design by Murayama and Masamu Yanase, and the linoleum prints by Tatsuo Okada, notably influenced by Futurism.

Following a set of protest events against art institutions and conservative academia, the confluence of a number of discrete avant-garde collectives established Sanka Art Association (1924 - 26). “Sanka 2nd exhibition” (Tokyo Community Hall, Ueno, 1925) became the largest exhibition of its kind, showcasing 122 artworks including Ticket Vendor (1925), a gigantic vehicle-like assemblage by Mavo & NKK; R. G…(1925) by Shuichiro Kinoshita, a Suprematist

composition with living humans in motion; and the anarchistic Okada’s installation with elements of self-portrayal performance. Toki Okamoto heavily reflected the nascent, underground thought of the time, in the installation Lumpen Proletariat (1925) and brought together found objects and a rope ladder which suggested the subversion of social hierarchy and overthrowing authority. Leftist thoughts were prevalent across various art forms and influenced by Soviet propaganda posters and satirical comics by George Grosz amongst others—, and prompted an ethical turn in the critical discourse, which paved way to the Proletarian Art movement.

In 1925, Sanka Art Association enacted Theatre of Sanka (1925) at the Tsukiji Little Theatre. The show took a form of a nonlinear collection of skits, played mostly impromptu, and contained the Neuetanz, nonstop screaming of the scripts, Constructivist stage design and “all the elements that lead to the underground, the absurd, and Happenings in later years” (Murayama recalls). Screened in this presentation, is video footage of the 1997 enactment, Theatre of Sanka: 1925-1997 (1997), performed by the students at the School of Art and Design, from the University of Tsukuba. A significant part of the scripts have no referential record, and after dedicated research was re-imagined by the performers reflecting the mood of the 1990s. This exercise was supervised by leading scholars of the Taisho New Art movement; Toshiharu Omuka, Tsutomu Mizusawa and Tatsuo Kawaguchi.

At a time when the past and the future were brutally disconnected, there emerged a wider sympathy for alternative political realities. Sanka grouped together against such backdrops, and became estranged in the course of a year due to radicalisation of some Marxist members. The history of these young avant-gardes have long been forgotten and subsequently rewritten by Neo-dada and Fluxus movements of the 1960s. The exhibition proposes amongst other questions: What created their temporal collectivism despite their varying ideologies and artistic beliefs? How is it possible to uncover and reassess history that has slipped into the obscurity? And what viewpoint would their activities project to us today in the continued reflection of the Fukushima catastrophe?

“1923” is curated by Asakusa with support by Professor Toshiharu Omuka, the University of Tsukuba.

アサクサは、1920年代の東京東部を中心に活動した前衛作家の足跡をたどるアーカイブ展 『1923』 を開催します。アヴァンギャルドの発生とアクティビズムが関わった重要なこの一時期に、絵画・詩・ダンス・舞台・建築など分野を横断した活動を展開する数人の作家が現れました。フォトコラージュや立体構成物、ハプニングに先立つパフォーマンスなど、概念を前面に引きだすアプローチが手法化され、作品の神秘性を打ち砕く反芸術の源流を形作っていきます。本展は、現存する作品が少ない大正期新興美術運動の一幕を参照し、アーカイブの記録データから、活動の軌跡を再構成するドキュメンテーションの試みです。

1923年、関東大震災が起こり、東京の文化をかたどる街並みが一夜にして瓦解します。大正期の前衛芸術において主導的な存在となる村山知義がベルリンから帰国し、前衛作家集団 マヴォ(MAVO: 1923-25年)を結成するのもこの年です。『マヴォ第1回展覧会』(1923年、浅草・浅草寺伝法)ののち、ロシア構成主義やダダの影響を通じて総合芸術への考えを共有した村山、柳瀬正夢らは、震災後、路上へのより直截な介入を行います。仮設住宅や倒壊を免れた建築物のファサードを塗りかえるバラック装飾をはじめ、翌年の『帝都復興創案展』(1924年、上野・竹之台陳列館)では、巷で拾い集めた残骸を寄せ集めた構成物を都市モデルとして展示し、崩れ去った物質文化に対峙します。平面・空間から都市にまで広がる広汎な活動は、未来派の流れをくむ岡田龍夫のリノリウム版画、荻原恭次郎による詩構成、村山、柳瀬による舞台デザインのモデルなどとともに、機関紙『MAVO』に記録されています。





『1923』 展は、筑波大学 五十殿利治教授の全面的な資料協力のもとに実現しました。


Toshiharu Omuka


  • INFO

Title: “1923"
Artists: Action, Mavo, Futurismo, DVL
Support: Toshiharu Omuka, The University of Tsukuba
Dates: 3 March - 3 April, 2016
Venue: Asakusa, 1-6-16 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo
Opening hours: Thur. 19:00 - 22:00,
Sat.& Sun. 12:00 - 19:00

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