Takahiko Iimura: Movies & Performance
"To review all of Iimura's work is an important occasion for all who are concerned with the development and pleasures of cinema as an art" (Jonas Mekas)
The most influential figure in Japanese experimental cinema, Takahiko Iimura is a pioneer of expanded cinema, video art and film installations in his native country. Living "in & out" of Japan since the 1960s, Iimura has shown an impressive breadth in his artistic practice that spans decades and various continents. His focus, nevertheless, has remained distinctly material, engaged with the physicality of the media with which he works to bring out the key components of darkness and light that he considers the essence of cinema.
Returning to Amsterdam for the first time since his screening at the Nederlands Filmmuseum on his six-month European tour in 1969, our unique program comprise of three distinct sections that highlight his career: the first, a focus on his early Dada-inspired work; the second, a presentation of structuralist film experiments; and the third, an expanded cinema performance. Takahiko Iimura will be present for a Q&A moderated by curator Julian Ross.
1963, 16mm (blown up from Regular 8mm), b&w, 10 min, sound.
"This is one of the most beautiful and introspective films ever made" (Peter Gidal). With music by Yoko Ono, Ai (Love) is a document of sex between a man and a woman captured in daring close-up that turns that contours of the bodies into abstract shapes. "A poetic and sensuous exploration of the body […] fluid, direct, beautiful" (Jonas Mekas).
1962, 16mm (blown up from Regular 8mm), b&w, 12 min, sound.
Iimura records the industrial waste and animal carcasses scattered around the shores of a beach in Japan with aggressive camerawork. With a noisy soundtrack by Takehisa Kosugi (Fluxus/Taj Mahal Travelers), Iimura attempts with his camera to "revive those dead animals metaphorically and to give the junk new life" (Takahiko Iimura).
On Eye Rape
Japanese title: Shikan ni tsuite
1962, 16mm, b&w, 10 min, silent.
Educational film discovered in a bin became raw material for On Eye Rape, where a hole-puncher was applied to individual frames in a bold statement against censorship. "The original images are 'hidden' by large areas of light appearing so violently that he calls this work On Eye Rape" (Christophe Charles). A pioneering work of junk art and found footage filmmaking from Japan, the film is a unique collaboration with artist Natsuyuki Nakanishi (Hi Red Centre).
One Frame Duration
1977, 16mm, b&w (tinted), 13 min., optical sound.
With echoes of Peter Kubelka and Tony Conrad, One Frame Duration is the representative work in Iimura's phase of structuralist film. Entirely composed of black and clear film leader, the film is minimalist in approach but overwhelming in effect. "Like an unexpected break or lightning, it is a very distinct moment which I found quite exciting" (Takahiko Iimura).
24 Frames Per Second
1975, 16mm, b&w, 12 min, optical sound.
"Both in terms of its examination of time and space, of light and darkness, of visuals and sounds; and in terms of its demands and potential rewards for an audience, 24 Frames Per Second is a quintessential Iimura film" (Scott McDonald). Part of the series of structuralist film works that Iimura embarked on in the 1970s, 24 Frames Per Second is a bold gesture that illuminates the entirety of the cinema space in its oscillation between darkness to light.
White Calligraphy Re-Read
1967/2014, Super 8, b&w, 20 min, sound.
Scratched onto each individual frame of a black film leader, the written text of Kojiki (the earliest historical chronicle of Japan) becomes illegible as it is projected in White Calligraphy. Almost fifty years after its making, Iimura reinterprets his film through a "film performance" where he paints onto the screen in attempt to trace the projection of light.
Supported by the Japan Foundation