Butoh on Film
31 October 2023 @ IKLECTIK, London
Doors 7:30pm / Start 8pm
Two Films, a Conversation and a Performance on Butoh
Chiharu MK feat. Kazuo Ohno
David Toop / Atsuko Kamura
£12 advance / £15 door
Chiharu MK feat.
CAVE DANCE is a newly edited version of Mr O’s Book of the Dead (1973), a film featuring the late butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno and his students, overlaid with newly composed music by Chiharu MK. The film was originally shot in Ohno's hometown in Hokkaido, where Chiharu MK currently lives, by Chiaki Nagano - a documentary filmmaker who collaborated on a trilogy of experimental films with Kazuo Ohno called the Mr O Series. Mr O's Book of the Dead is the third film in the trilogy.
“Book of the Dead” originally referred to a funerary ritual document that was buried with the dead in ancient Egypt as a way of praying for their souls, and contained guidelines for the path to Aaru (paradise) from when the soul leaves the body, as well as instructions on what to say at when receiving their judgement in the afterlife. CAVE DANCE includes a scene reminiscent of an old Japanese custom called "Nobe-okuri", in which relatives and neighbours carry the coffin in a procession to the burial ground after the funeral. In Buddhism, the Sanzu River flows at the border between this world and the next. As Ohno dances mystically through the forest, it is as if he is dancing in a world on the way to the other side. The sound of the chime used is said to dispel evil spirits, and help one reach Paradise. Some of the sounds are processed from field recordings made in Hokkaido.
The music of this work was produced with respect, so that Ohno might hear it all the way from the other side.
Based in Sapporo, capital city of Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, electroacoustic sound artist Chiharu MK studied audio spatialization at INA-GRM, Paris from 2001. She went on to play the acousmonium (a loudspeaker orchestra situated at the Motus performance space) at the Futura Festival in 2002. Her soundworks also featured at the international Festival of Bourges, the CCMC at I’Institut Franco-Japonais in Tokyo, Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and at SnowScape Moere4 in Sapporo. Chiharu MK’s albums include “Piano prizm”, “Waterproof’ and “Blue Flow” (featuring Sachiko Nagata on hamon metal percussion instrument).
In 2011, she participated in the John Cage 100th Pre-anniversary concert in Sapporo. In 2018, she was a special guest at Hong Kong Arts Centre’s 40th anniversary Sound Forms 2018 – A festival of Multi Channel.
In the UK Chiharu MK + Micelle’s short dance film “re:vive” featured in Numbers Matter 121, a Covid-era online event curated by Keiko Yoshida for London’s IKLECTIK [off-site] series in April 2021. The piece was subsequently selected and shown at Dance Camera Pandemania – Istanbul’s International Improvisation Dance Festival 2022.
1970’s Butoh in Tokyo and London
David Toop / Atsuko Kamura
Improvisation in dance and music through view of two musicians.
Butoh in Tokyo & London in the 1970s as recalled through dialogue and memories of Mitsutaka Ishii & Rain in the Face.
David Toop is a writer and a composer/musician, working in many fields of performance art, sound art and music since the late 1960s. He has recorded Yanomami shamanism in Amazonas, appeared on Top of the Pops with the Flying Lizards and worked with artists ranging from Derek Bailey, Hugh Davies, Paul Burwell, Bob Cobbing and Ivor Cutler to Akio Suzuki, Camille Torment, Ryuichi Sakamoto, butoh dancer such as Mitsutaka Ishii and Min Tanaka.
Exhibitions he has curated included Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery, Playing John Cage at Arnolfini, Bristol, and Blow Up at Flat Time House and his opera "Star-shaped Biscuit” for Aldeburgh in Snape Maltings 2012.
About his work, David explains: “What I consider to be research is a questioning of research itself: in what sense can an identifiable practice of listening be formulated and how does that inform the act of reflecting on sound, whether through analytical writing, speaking, composing? This is also true of performance practice, particularly in improvised music: can the reflexivity of improvisation be understood within the framework of research? My research focus is on sound, listening, writing sound, improvised music (practice, theory and history), sonic arts, strategies for composing for improvisers and a theory of ‘the instrument’ (the device or intangible ‘sculpture’ through which sound-making, listening and related events become manifest). This encompasses specific fields such as collaborative performance and listening to ‘silent’ media such as painting and literature but research as a site of discovery emerges from what is generated from the dialogue between all of these approaches, their varying intensities and forms of articulation.”
One of Tokyo's most emotive and inventive artists and part of the women’s liberation movement in Japan in the 1980s, Atsuko was one of the founding members of the first all-feminist Japanese punk band, Mizutama Shobodan [Polkadot Fire Brigade], which formed in 1979 in Tokyo. Mizutama Shobodan toured Japan extensively, setting up their own record label and releasing two albums. Their second album, “Manten ni Akai Hanabira” [Red Petals in the Sky] was produced by Fred Frith.
She also teamed up with Tenko to form the female improvisation vocal duo Honeymoons in 1981, performing internationally with seminal New York improvisers such as Tom Cora and John Zorn.
In 1988 she joined Kazuko Hohki’s UK based Japanese pop group Frank Chickens and toured Europe, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USSR and Japan.
Since 2002, she has collaborated with musicians of diverse genres such as Robert Storey from Orchestra Murphy. Her latest project, Kamura Obscura, has released several albums and the latest, "4 AM Diary” was reviewed by Stewart Lee: "4am diary is a nightclub cabaret in occupied territory, inscrutable subversion, discombobulation, kirsch-quaffing commissars.”- Idler, 2022.
Although her career has primarily been in music, dance has been a life long passion. She started to train in contemporary dance at the age of 18, and in 1974 she saw Akira Kasai’s butoh performance in Tokyo, which made a significant impact on her whole artistic career.
She trained in butoh at Akira Kasai’s Tenshikan until his departure for Germany in 1979, and attended numerous workshops with butoh masters such as Kazuo Ohno, Min Tanaka, and body work pioneers Michizo Noguchi and Haruchika Noguchi.
She has since qualified in dance therapy at Roehampton University in 2004, and has been working with those with learning difficulties, on the autism spectrum and those with mental health issues in the UK and Japan, as well as running improvisation workshops combining music, dance, and art.
Boiler Room Dance
Live music performance by Dirty Electronics, with film featuring Kazuo Ohno.
John Richards explores Dirty Electronics focusing on shared experiences, social interaction and critical making. He is concerned with the performance of large-group electronic music and DIY electronics, and he has come to consider these activities as a holistic action. It is a fluid, live practice associated with the ideas of workshop-installation and performance-installation. His work pushes the boundaries between music, performance art, electronics, and graphic design and is transdisciplinary as well as having a socio-political dimension. He has also written numerous texts on DIY practices, performance of electronic music, and object-orientated and material approaches in relation to sound art.
As Dirty Electronics, Richards has created sound devices for various arts organisations and festivals. He released a series of hand-held synths on Mute Records in collaboration with the designer and writer Adrian Shaughnessy. Other significant artwork/sound circuits have included: the Sonar 20th Anniversary Synth for the electronic music festival Sonar; and Polytik, collaboration with graphic designer Jack Featherstone and Artists & Engineers. Richards considers these devices as 'physical editions', an embodiment and means of dissemination of musical ideas.
He has collaborated and performed with, amongst others, Merzbow, Pauline Oliveros, Howard Skempton (founder member of the Scratch Orchestra), Gabriel Prokofiev, Anna Meredith, Nicholas Bullen, Kanta Horio, Tetsuya Umeda and Yan Jun. Other notable collaborations include working with Rolf Gehlhaar (original Stockhausen group), Chris Carter from Throbbing Gristle, Keith Rowe, Anat Ben-David, Makoto Nomura, Stu Smith (ASMO), Dushume (Amit D Patel), Max Wainwright, Tim Shaw and Afrorack (Brian Bamanya). He has also worked closely with illustrator Natalie Kay-Thatcher and film director Johana Ožvold (The Sound is Innocent).