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Eikoh Hosoe
Theatre of Memory
Folder, 19 x 30 cm., 20 pp.
Equis 2010

Soon after he began photographing in the 1950's, Eikoh Hosoe saw a performance of "Kinjiki," Tatsumi Hijikata's Butoh dance. Deeply stirred by the dance form's explicit dramaticism, he saw the potential to create an expressive account of his own memories. Hosoe collaborated soon after with Hijitaka on "Kamaitachi," a performance about his childhood during wartime. He subsequently photographed the performance, not only as documentation of the event but as a secondary expressive form. In his essay "Eikoh Hosoe's Photographic Theatre," curator Marc Feustel writes, "whereas the prevailing photography of the period sought to document the real world, with 'Kamaitachi' Hosoe used photographs to recreate memory, exploring not only his personal childhood memories but also the nation's collective memory of the trauma of wartime and of the atomic bombings."
Later, in the 1990's, Hosoe created a production in which both his own photographs and "ukiyo-e," that is, erotic woodblock images by the 18th century artist Shohaku, were projected onto the bodies of Butoh dancers. Hosoe also immaculately photographed this performance. In "Theatre of Memory," which combines photos from the 1965 "Kamaitachi" with those from this more recent "ukiyo-e" performance, we are presented with multi-form layerings of artistic meaning, as complex and shifting but also as arresting, as the past in our minds.


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