Butoh: The Dance of Darkness
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung
I just did a lecture for the University of Reddit about some Contemporary Japanese Art. I started my narrative with the Japanese post-bomb "silent scream" that found expression in Butoh dance emerging from Hiroshima in the late 50s. Both male and female butoh dancers would typically strip naked, cover their bodies in white body paint, and move in a hauntingly slow pace with their faces contorted into terrifyingly living masks. The first famous Butoh dance performed in 1959 was inspired by Yukio Mishima's first novel "Forbidden Colors" (the Oscar Wilde of Japan?) and concluded with founder Kazuo Ono's 12 year old son Yoshito (with whom in 2006 I got to briefly study!) simulating sex with a chicken and running off stage. From that context I then introduced five popular contemporary visual artists working and thriving in Japan: Takashi Murakami, Aida Makoto, Tenmyouya Hisashi, Yayoi Kusama, and Konoike Tomoko. Whatever these artists are doing, it must be resonating with something true in the Japanese psyche because the Japanese people love them. The hour-long lecture is on youtube, but I'll give you a shorter version here later.