Yōji Kuri: Art, Life and Opinions

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In this first screening, we are thrilled to collaborate with curator Fusako Matsu and the Yōji Kuri Studio to present works by Kuri. Further, we are excited to welcome Ushio Shinohara and Reiko Tomii for a special post-screening discussion about Shinohara’s interview by Kuri. We are grateful for the support from Ushio and Noriko Shinohara and the Arakawa + Gins The Reversible Destiny Foundation.


(Yōji Kuri, 1963, 5 min., color, sound, 35mm transferred to digital)

The Bathroom

(Yōji Kuri, 1972, 10 min, b/w, sound, 35mm transferred to digital)

Art, Life and Opinions: Shūsaku Arakawa (Arakawa Shūsaku no Geijutsu to Seikatsu to Iken)

(Yōji Kuri, 1973, 20 min, b/w, sound, 16mm transferred to digital)

The Midnight Parasites (Kiseichū no ichiya)

(Yōji Kuri, 1972, 10 min, color, sound, 35mm transferred to digital)

Art, Life and Opinions: Ushio Shinohara (Shinohara Ushio no Geijutsu to Seikatsu to Iken)

(Yōji Kuri, 1973, 21 min, color, sound, 16mm transferred to digital)

Curated by Fusako Matsu

In 1973, the animator Yōji Kuri released a series of short films documenting the internationally active artists Shūsaku Arakawa, Sawako Gōda, Ushio Shinohara, Nobuo Sekine, and Tadanori Yokoo. The series, titled Geijutsu to Seikatsu to Iken (Art, Life and Opinions), consists of one film per artist, each about 20 minutes in length. They are in a voiceover format, with artists’ narration superimposed on images of their art and footage of them working, each of them speaking about their work and the inspirations and cultural context of their practice.

The five short films in the Art, Life and Opinions series were first presented at a screening where the lineup also included animation by Kuri and the documentary Deutschland Dada (1969), by Helmut Herbst, dealing with the early days of German Dadaism. Deutschland Dada was described in official publicity materials for the screening as “a documentary work dealing with German Dadaist art circa 1898 [sic],” and the screening evidently intended to show parallels between the Dadaists and the five Japanese artists in Kuri’s films, all of whom were radically unconstrained by conventional values.

Interest in Dadaism was growing in Japan in 1960, the year Kuri began releasing animated works as a member of Three-Person Animation Circle (Animation 3-nin no Kai). The same year, the group Neo Dadaism Organizers was formed by artists including Shūsaku Arakawa and Ushio Shinohara, both of whom appear in Art, Life and Opinions.

The screening of works by Animation 3-nin no Kai was among the many projects conceived by Sōgetsu Art Center, a driving force in Japanese avant-garde art. After the screening at Sōgetsu, Kuri deepened ties with various musicians and artists, and he actively documented his contemporaries on the creative scene. Tarō Okamoto and Toshi Ichiyanagi make appearances in The Chair (1963), while the group Zero Jigen (Zero Dimension) appears in A Walnut in the Head (2007), made with footage Kuri had shot in the past.

This program will present his classic LOVE, as well as The Bathroom and The Midnight Parasites, which were shown for the first time at the initial screening event, “Art, Life and Opinions.” In the spirit of featuring recent digitizations, we are also pleased to present two titles out of the Art, Life and Opinions series: The Art, Life and Opinions of Shūsaku Arakawa and The Art, Life and Opinions of Ushio Shinohara. Further, we are very pleased to welcome Ushio Shinohara in person, to discuss the interview with art historian Reiko Tomii after the screening.


Yōji Kuri was born in 1928 in Sabae, Fukui, Japan. He has been active in numerous fields including animation, manga, painting, illustration, sculpture, and fiction. He founded the animation studio Kuri Jikken Manga Kobo (Kuri Experimental Animation Studio) in 1960 and began producing works. The same year, Kuri, Ryohei Yanagihara, and Hiroshi Manabe formed Animation 3-nin no Kai (Three-Person Animation Circle) and organized Japan’s first experimental animation screening at Sogetsu Art Center. The screening series was later rebranded as an “Animation Festival,” and became the country’s foundational festival of animation, screening works from both Japan and overseas.

Music by Kuniharu Akiyama, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Yoko Ono, Tōru Takemitsu and others was incorporated into Kuri’s animated films, and many works including his masterpiece Clap Vocalism won awards and were screened at film festivals around the world. In the early days of Japanese television, Kuri produced hundreds of animations for televised series such as 11PM, Minna no Uta (“Songs for Everyone”), and Hyokkori Hyotan Island, and he also appeared in many TV programs and commercials. He continues to paint and create animation today.


Graduated from Musashino Art University, Moving Image Division, Matsu researches photography and animation. Matsu leads the archives of Yõji Kuri and Taku Furukawa. Matsu has contributed “Animated MV, The Third Golden Age—Michael Patterson’s A-HA’s ‘Take On Me,’ AC part, Powder’s ‘New Tribe’” in ECRIT-O vol. 11. Matsu has co-authored Agnès Varda: Cinéaste of Love and Memory (Documentary Series) (Neoneo Magazine, 2021).

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·Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts is a vaccine-required community, with few exceptions.

·All guests must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must present proof of vaccination at the box office. CDC-issued vaccination cards are preferred, though photographic proof will also be accepted.

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·Lightbox will be operating at reduced capacity until further notice.

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