The project is an intercultural encounter based on the artistic overlap of Pina Bausch’s “Kontakthof” and the Japanese Bon-Odori dance. For this purpose, I will rehearse a corresponding dance piece with a group of elderly people at Atelier Furusato in Japan and perform it in public.
For several years now, I have been developing wearable sculptures made of paper in my artistic work, often based on Japanese designs. For the project in Japan, I will design performative clothing for about seven people and realise it together with Kiyomi Mitzokuti. An experienced seamstress who specialises in the Japanese tradition of making and repairing antique kimonos. From Europe I would like to invite a young textile artist who sees this as an opportunity to gain an authentic insight into Japanese culture and textile craftsmanship. The garments, which take up Japanese ritual traditions in terms of materiality and design, will serve as exhibits after the demonstration.Other people will appear in western suits and together they will perform a staging of encounter and distance in front of an audience.
My interest in Pina Bausch’s piece is partly due to its depiction of mimetic processes by which we as spectators internalise this piece. The exaggerated display of perfect body control confronts the audience with the automatism of non-verbal behaviour patterns and gestures that reflect the social code in the everyday world. The focus is on the staging and rhythmic performance of body-based scenes and movements and their approach. However, the mostly cross-gender gestures often fail. The bodies perform the movements directed at each other, but they do not reach their counterparts. The spectator also senses the intention and at the same time experiences the failure of its realisation. Thus, men and women have to keep repeating their game, even though they know, like Sisyphus, that there are no successful encounters.
O-bon is a traditional Buddhist festival and holiday in Japan for the salvation of the souls of departed ancestors. Traditionally associated with a dance festival, O-bon has existed in Japan for more than 500 years and has become a family reunion holiday. People from the big cities come back to their hometowns to greet the spirits of the dead. It is customary to dance the Bon Odori, which is performed in a male and a female style. The odori is danced to a two-beat rhythm called zomeki (“walking around with arms”). Since the steps and movements are very simple and are danced side by side in a group, it is popular to dance the Bon Odori to modern music. The presentation of simple rhythmic hand movements, derived from everyday life, performed together in the group, separated by gender, is an obvious reminiscent of the avant-garde theatre of Pina Bausch.