Japan

Organized Panel Session

4 - Rescuing the Body in the Era of Image Politics: Hi Red Center’s Performance Shelter Plan (1964)

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Delaware Suite A, Lobby Level

The protests of the 1960s blurred the line between political activism and artistic practices in Japan. Yuriko Furuhata described this period as the “Season of Image Politics” referring to the manipulation of media events in avant-garde Japanese cinema. In this context, some scholars discuss performance art from the perspective of activism. Others view the image of a performance art work as a matter of film and photographic documentation. My paper examines the issue of the medium of performance art in the era of image politics through the art group Hi Red Center’s Shelter Plan. Staged in a room of the Tokyo Imperial Hotel, the performance produced and “documented” a customized life-size model of a nuclear shelter; each participant was measured and photographed from six points of view. I argue that HRC was in the vanguard of appropriating the image, as the process of documentation became an integral part of the theatricality of performance art. Following Andre Bazin’s theory of reality as both the object and its photograph, I confirm that performance co-exists as both a spatial temporal real and an image. In my analysis, I explore the agency of the artist in rescuing an individual’s body (nikutai) in a world of “pseudo events,” in which, according to Daniel J. Boorstin, the news creates an event. In our contemporary society of “alternative truths,” the encounter of art and politics remains an enduring question. 

Daria Melnikova

University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania

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4 - Rescuing the Body in the Era of Image Politics: Hi Red Center’s Performance Shelter Plan (1964)



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