ACC Cultural Conversations ~Series: Thinking About Art in the Time of “The New Normal”
#1 “Theater in the time of Covid-19 – Kyoko Iwaki × Akane Nakamura × Suguru Yamamoto”
Live Streaming Date: Friday, June 26, 2020 18:00-19:30
Performance Studies Researcher, Kyoko Iwaki facilitated a dialogue between Suguru Yamamoto (Director, theate collective “HANCHU-YUEI”) and Akane Nakamura (Producer, CEO of precog co.,LTD.), discussing the possibilities and challenges that the Performing Arts now meet in face of the Corona crisis.
Iwaki points out that Japan’s theatre community was slow in responding online to the social shutdown, in comparison to many Western countries. Yamamoto attributes this to a certain “insecurity” among artists, who see online content creating as something fundamentally different from the creation of performing arts. Drawing on the interventionist attitude of the “Underground” theatre movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, and how at the time works initially disregarded from the mainstream theatre community later led to a massive movement, Yamamoto points out that this crisis is an opportunity for artists to venture into new modes of communication through an online platform.
Yamamoto also points out that the aesthetic of many “online theatre” works rely on our daily use of certain online platforms, encouraging other artists to interpret the screen itself as a virtual “theatre space”, and explore a physicality within that framework. The three agree that performances through online platforms have the potential to transcend the restrictions of “physical” theatre spaces, a field of experimentation in fact familiar to many artists in contemporary practices.
Nakamura depicts the process of the new precog-produced work by artist Yudai Kamisato “Khao Khao Club.mp3” transitioning to an online form due to Corona crisis. Citing other works by artists such as Rimini Protokoll and Silke Hyusmans & Hennes Dereere, Iwaki and Nakamura point out that there is an increasing interest among artists in experimentations of “non-contact” forms of performance.
Nakamura and Yamamoto discuss the possibility of new modes of online creation having a lasting effect on how performances, especially international collaborations are created. The two agree that while “online” performances could potentially be created solely online, and that certain stages of international collaboration such as research could potentially be replaced by online communication, there is vital physical information that does not fully communicate through online platforms. As Iwaki points out that through online communication, the reality of what is “offscreen” often becomes absent, the three agree that this absence is in fact a defining feature of designing online communication.
The three move on to discuss support for the arts under the current climate. While there is a rising attention to donations, such as crowdfunding platforms, Yamamoto points out that there is still a lack of individualistic activism in Japan, where often, only institutionalized forms of patronage are endorsed by the general public.
In response to an audience question on what forms of public funding towards the arts should be implemented, Nakamura points out the “product-based” nature of Japan’s current arts funding, and propose that the government follow in the steps of countries like Germany, creating forms of “process-based” support for artists, enabling them to explore new territories.
Iwaki end the talk by quoting Bertolt Brecht, who said that artists should focus not on the “good old” things, but always the “bad new” things. And as Yamamoto proposed in the beginning, it is time for the performing arts community to seize this “new bad” situation, and utilize it as an opportunity for artists to take new creative challenges, for the theatre community to create new platforms of audience engagement, and for political bodies to implement new structures of support.
Hanchu-Yuei『バナナの花 (Banana Flower)』
chelfitsch & Teppei Kaneuji "Eraser Fields"
Live Streaming Venue: Yamabuki Factory
Organized by Asian Cultural Council Japan Foundation
In cooperation with Yamabuki Factory
ACC Japan Program is supported by the Saison Foundation and the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts.