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Awarded 2010 Art Encouragement Prizes by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs


Anarchy of the Body
Undercurrents of Performance Art in 1960s Japan


Written by KuroDalaiJee
768 pg.
4,200 JPY tax excluded
The history of Japanese art of the 1960s has often been introduced in exhibitions and discussed, due to bold experiments carried out by the artists and the dynamic evolution of art from Informel painting to Anti-art, followed by technology art, Mono-ha and conceptual art. However, the exhibitions and writings on the history of this period have typically ignored the performances of visual artists, except those by Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai [Gutai Art Association] and Hi-Red Center. In fact, many other artists also ventured out of the context of eartf to do performances in public spaces throughout the 1960s, which represented the anti-institutional culture of the time more than any other works and performances already recorded in history as the mainstream of the econtemporaryf art.
This book examines performances of obscure artists in order to place them in the cultural and political history of the anarchist tendencies of that epoque, which also manifested themselves in the contemporary counter-culture and political activism. These performances took place in the context of the Anpo Struggle (Movement against Japan-US Security Treaty) in the early 60s, and Zenkyoto (All-Student Joint Struggle Conference) movements in the late 60s, as the artists took part in the protests against the contemporary social ideals and rapid modernization.

The book is divided into four sections. In Section 1, we examine the significance of the history of performance arts in Japan, demonstrating why it has been neglected in art historical research that relied on the fabricated mainstream and remaining works while admiring ehighf art in einternationalf style. The performance art discussed here was actually an inevitable result of eAnti-artf shown at the Yomiuri Independent Exhibitions in early 60s. To transcend a premature end of the 1964 debates on eAnti-artf which were confined to an eart worldf that overly referred to foreign trends, we need to expand the concept of eAnti-artf to reflect the secularity of everyday reality caught in the old-fashioned life style, while also taking the new phenomena into consideration--- the spread of urbanization and omnipresence of the mass media.

In Section 2, we chronologically retrace the history of Japanese performance art from 1957 to 1970, as viewed from this new perspective. Performance art started as a public demonstration of action painting popularized by Georges Mathieu in 1957, which stimulated Shinohara Ushio to start presentations of artistfs personality in mass media. Around the same time, Kazakura Sho did his first performance independent from painting as a challenge to theatrical conventions. This move toward bodily presence and edirect actionf was accelerated by the suppressed energy and the anarchist tendencies after the defeat of Anpo Movement in 1960.
After the Yomiuri Independent Exhibition was suspended in 1963, with Japan embarking upon its phenomenal economical growth, performance art spread to regional cities and streets out of the narrow art/gallery confines, as seen in the early experiments by Zero Jigen (Zero Dimention), and shows such as Gifu Independent Exhibition in 1965, which led to creation of a network of artists living in remote areas. Joint performance art shows started also in 1962-64.
In 1966- 68 when angura culture bloomed, more artists started performances on streets and stages for popular audiences, both individually and collectively, such as Kurohata, Mizukami Jun, Koyama Tetsuo, and Kokuin. In Kansai (Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto), The Play was founded in 1967 with Mizukami and Ikemizu Keiichi et al., as a group for collective projects. In 1968-69, The Play combined the spontaneous/simultaneous performances of individuals with the organized, collective performances of groups.
When the countdown for the opening of Expo e70 started, many of the avant-garde artists as well as architects, designers, and musicians were invited to contribute to this national event, following the spread of einter-mediaf events after mid-1960s. As a response, the eritualf performance artists succeeding the Anti-art tendencies formed Banpaku Hakai Kyoto-ha [Expof70 Destruction Joint-Struggle Group] in early 1969, aiming to esmashf the Expof70 by organizing events protesting against the societal brainwashing that advocated economic and technological progress and was promulgated by the government and big enterprises. However, after the leading members were arrested under the massive police crackdown on activists and hippies in the streets, the group self-dissolved, and its members headed off in various directions.

In Section 3, we focus on artists and collectives that played important roles in the history of performance art in 1960s, examining specific developments not addressed in Section 2. Here we discuss Kyushu-ha [Kyushu School] (Fukuoka), Asai Masuo (Seto), Zero Jigen [Zero Dimension] (Nagoya/Tokyo), Kurohata [Black Flag] (Tokyo), Koyama Tetsuo (Tokyo), Kokuin [Announcing Negative] (Tokyo), solo woman performers, Itoi Kanji (Tokyo/Sendai), and Shudan Kumo [Spider Collective] (Fukuoka).

Finally, in Section 4, we delineate the cultural, social, and political backgrounds of the aforementioned numerous performances and evaluate the performances as the artistsf continuous protest against the elite culture, economic and technological modernization, the increasingly urbanized but also a more controlled society, and the conventional style of leftist movements, with the adventurous spirit of eAnarchy of the Bodyf.

Why Are Artists Poor?
The Exceptional Economy of the Arts


Written by Hans Abbing
Translated by Kazuhiro Yamamoto

544 pg.
3,4000 JPY tax excluded
'Successful' artists attain money and fame while scores of 'unsuccessful' artists hold part time jobs and depend heavily on their spouses for support. With a keen eye toward related situations in the entertainment and sports industries, "Why Are Artists Poor" takes a closer look at the inner workings of the financial side of the art world.

The examples given in the book are principally centered on the west, but much of the book also applies to the situation in Japan as well. And while the book has its critics, it serves an important role in generating serious discussion on the topic.

With interest in art management on the rise and the ever increasing gap between the rich and the poor a constant topic of debate, "Why Are Artists Poor" offers a wealth of insights to economists and artists alike.

The author - Hans Abbing - is himself an artist who lectures in economics at the University of Amsterdam.