"Ritual" as an Image

Special Online Screening

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Lightbox Film Center in partnership with Collaborative Cataloging Japan is pleased to welcome curators Go Hirasawa and Shuhei Hosoya to present a special online screening of films by Shinichi Iwata and Yoshihiro Katō, members of the group Zero Jigen (Zero Dimension). This event marks CCJ’s first collaboration with researcher Shuhei Hosoya, chief representative of the Zero Jigen Katō Yoshihiro Archive. Forthcoming, Hosoya will publish an essay on CCJ’s website that will dig deeper into the issue around archiving and documenting performance works, and about the films that capture the performance actions.


The Walking Man

The artist Iwata Shinichi formed the avant-garde arts group Zero Jigen (Zero Dimension) with Katō Yoshihiro and was one of its core members, primarily active in Nagoya. After the actions of Banpaku Hakai Kyōtō-ha (Expo ’70 Destruction Joint-Struggle Group) came to a close in 1970, he ran for mayor of Nagoya on the “Rainbow Party” ticket, and his activities ran parallel to those of the Japanese hippie scene as well as presenting a unique form of Pop Art that found elements of art in the culture and customs of the masses.

Iwata also launched Rock Kabuki “Super Ichiza” and engaged in diverse artistic activities not only in Nagoya but in various locations, including overseas. His work is viewed as ripe for critical reappraisal in the near future.

In The Walking Man, Iwata walks the streets of Nagoya at a constant pace as the camera continuously films him from the side. Occasionally raucous scenes of men in suits falling over are inserted, but Iwata’s walking speed does not change. Meanwhile, the sound and tempo of the drum track in the background repeatedly change and fluctuate, and the viewer is beckoned on a psychedelic voyage departing from the street-level, mass-cultural scenery of Nagoya. The universal act of simply walking continuously down a street, expressed by the words “THE END LESS” appearing on screen at the beginning, eventually unfolds to an expansion not only of the visual expression of images, but also of our vision of the everyday. (Shinichi Iwata, Japan, 1969, 16mm transferred to digital video, 15 min., color and b&w, sound) Collection of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art

The White Hare of Inaba

The avant-garde arts group Zero Jigen (Zero Dimension) was launched in Nagoya in the 1960s and carried out an extraordinary number of physical actions over a long period of time on the streets of Tokyo and various other locations, reaching its zenith around 1968. In 1969, its members joined Kokuin (Heralding Shadow) and others in forming Banpaku Hakai Kyōtō-ha (Expo ’70 Destruction Joint-Struggle Group) in opposition to the upcoming Expo ’70 Osaka. The members of this group literally placed their bodies on the line in resisting the state and the capitalist system.

The White Hare of Inaba is a film directed by Katō Yoshihiro, a central member of Zero Jigen, with cinematography by the filmmaker Ōe Masanori. Drawing on the Japanese myth of the white hare of Inaba, it presents a white hare (i.e. woman) leaping across waters full of ferocious sharks (i.e. male-dominated society), presenting a vision for a new era while capturing on film the joy of human beings’ inherent Eros and a new mode of “family” that breaks free of feudalistic social constraints.

The special edition screened here was edited just before Katō’s death. It is a two-screen multi-channel projection consisting of documentation of Zero Jigen’s activities from 1967 through 1969 and original footage of The White Hare of Inaba and Brahman. This work exemplifies Katō’s media practice of his later years, in which the singularity of the performance and situation itself is amplified by connecting the two different moving images by means music at high volume. (Yoshihiro Katō, Japan, 1970 (Special edition 2017), 16mm transferred to digital video, two-screen multi-channel projection, 46 min., color and b&w, sound) © Zero Jigen Katō Yoshihiro Archive

Please note that The White Hare of Inaba contains nudity and adult content.

Further reading about Zero Jigen by our partner Julian Ross, is also available on desistfilm.