Art, events and bodies in 1960s Japan Talk by Peter Eckersall

30 January 2013 from 6.30pm, at the Japan Foundation, London

Through public and social events such as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the 1970 Osaka Expo and the radicalisation of the student protest movement, the 1960s in Japan can be considered an era of embodied cultural acts; events all engaging with experience of the body, whether it be athletics, the crowds who gathered at Expo, and mass rallies that took over the city streets and railway stations.  So too can a relationship with the body be identified in the arts of the 1960s, ranging from its use in stage performance, art events and the fascination with the body in cinema.

From Nagisa Oshima’s films about the protest movement to the Black Flag stage performance art events, Peter Eckersall, Associate Professor of Theatre Studies in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne and Research Fellow at the Centre for Interweaving Performance Cultures, Freie Universität Berlin, will discuss the various connections between the body, politics and action in the 1960s in the broader cultural context and look into how the era can be considered a decade of embodied gestures and events.  This event will give an insight to the state of arts and culture in the 1960s, an era marking a milestone in Japan.


Daiwa Foundation Art Prize 2012 Exhibition Tokyo, SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, 18 January – 23 February 2013

18 January – 23 February 2013

Haroon Mirza, 2012 Daiwa Foundation Art Prize Winner, Solo exhibition at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE in Tokyo

We are delighted to present this solo exhibition by Haroon Mirza at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE in Tokyo, Japan. As the winner of the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize 2012, Mirza was given the opportunity to have this exhibition in Tokyo. Partnerships have been central to the successful realisation of the Art Prize and we are very grateful to Masami Shiraishi, President of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, for agreeing to host this exhibition. I am confident that Mirza’s work will resonate strongly with Japanese audiences, and I hope also that his experiences in Japan will offer new inspirations for his artistic practice.

The Daiwa Foundation Art Prize aims to open doors in Japan for British artists. From over 700 initial applications, Haroon Mirza, Tom Hammick and Jennifer E. Price were shortlisted by our expert panel of judges – Jonathan Watkins, Mami Kataoka, Masami Shiraishi, Martin Gayford and Grayson Perry. Work by the short-listed artists was shown at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House Gallery in London in June and July 2012.

The Trustees of the Foundation join me in offering congratulations to Haroon Mirza. We hope that, in awarding the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize and holding this exhibition at SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, we will not only open new doors for British artists in Japan but also create valuable partnerships and opportunities for the future.

Jason James, Director General, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation


Art and Music and Haroon Mirza


“I was brought up Muslim … In certain regimes [in Islam] music is sort of frowned upon and related to things like infidelity and other terrible things if you listen to or engage with music”                                                                 

By Haroon Mirza

Haroon Mirza’s commitment to sound, to music in particular, is an intelligent challenge not only to the dogma of organized religion, but also to the institution of art. In Mirza’s work, music counteracts the religious tendencies in art, challenging the faith required to persist with the notion that art is somehow transcendent and distinct from everyday life.

Our ears, unlike our eyes, do not have lids. Waves of sound break through. Music is irresistible, undeniable, leaking in to affect us, insinuating, and pervasive. As a constant factor in the aesthetic equations devised by Haroon Mirza, music subtly contradicts the notion of a self-contained work of art, beautiful and true in itself. Our response to music stems from association, from the countless ideas and emotions we bring to our encounter with it, which can also be said of visual art.

Found objects, readymade and often ready-used, likewise occur in Mirza’s work as signs of free thinking, a philosophical scepticism that is, frankly, one of the only redeeming features of art. He knows, as we know, that the final artistic destinations of found objects were never envisaged by their makers, and so it becomes clear that this business of art is a question both of (our imaginative) projection and co-option. This applies as much to found objects that are works of art in their own right, and sounds that are music. All is revealed as being wonderfully unfixed.

Haroon Mirza was brought up Muslim. We were all brought up within some kind of prescriptive structure – be it ideological, religious and/or political – which insists that certain thoughts, tastes and behaviours are simply not acceptable. Art can be like that too, negative and dull. Haroon Mirza’s work, on the other hand, is life-affirming and positive.


Jonathan Watkins, Director Ikon Gallery

Haroon Mirza- Winner of the 2012 Daiwa Foundation Art Prize 

Haroon Mirza gained an MA in Fine Art at ChelseaCollegeof Art & Design with a Lynda Brockbank Scholarship (2007). He was awarded the Northern Art Prize 2010 and the Silver Lion for most promising young artist at the 54th Venice Biennale, 2011. He has participated in notable exhibitions including The British Art Show 7 (2011) organised by Hayward Touring, Preoccupied Waveforms (2012) at theNewMuseum inNew York, and the ninthGwangju Biennale inKorea.


Through his work, Mirza attempts to isolate the perceptual distinctions between noise, sound and music. He explores the potentiality for the visual and the acoustic to come together as one singular aesthetic form. These ideas are examined through lo-fi yet complex assemblages and installations that employ furniture, household electronics, video and existing artworks to formulate audio compositions with a temporal basis.

Image: Haroon Mirza, Digital Switchover, 2012 installation view of |||| ||, Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, 2012 Courtesy of the artist, and SCAI THE BATHHOUSE Photo by Gunner Meier

A Japanese Play Reading in English: Getting Lost

24 November 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House
10-12 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5EH

Japanese contemporary performance has been plunged into a very interesting and exciting phase, breeding many different styles from the younger generation who are quite often free from existing codes. The Japan Foundation once again looks at a leading example of a Japanese contemporary play by award-winning playwright Shiro Maeda, who is believed to have been instrumental in leading performing arts in Japan into a new phase. This play reading of Getting Lost will offer to a UK audience the first chance to experience, in English, this piece of very recent high-calibre Japanese theatre.

The Play
Michiru Suzuki is 30, and struggling: with Tokyo, with her parents, her sister, her ex and current boyfriend, and with her unborn child. The play involves these characters, in situations both real and conceived, exploring contemporary Tokyo and its society. One day, unsure about where she is going in her disorientated life, she turns to her sister who was never born, to consult…
At turns surreal, irreverent, and darkly comic, Maeda explores that contemporary malaise: being ‘lost’ in the metropolis. Running initially in the Mini Theatre at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, the play was received with great appreciation by audiences and critics alike in Japan, being performed a total of 15 times to more than 2100 people.

The Playwright
Born in Tokyo in 1977, writer, director and actor Shiro Maeda has engaged as a director and/or actor in more than 40 productions since forming the theatre company GOTANNDADAN in 1997. Winning the 52nd Kishida Drama Award for his script Isn’t Anyone Alive? (2007), he achieved further success with his highly recognised work Suteru Tabi(2008), which was performed both in Japan and abroad. The playwright’s acclaimed career took a new journey with his production Getting Lost (2010), which offered the audience a striking new perspective.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to

New York Times

Che coincidenza! Oggi sul vi e’ riportata la classifica stilata dal New York Times sui 41 migliori posti da visitare nel 2011 (la classifica del New York Times comprende 100 posti). Questo articolo viene pubblicato il giorno dopo il mio post sulle mie 5 citta’ favorite ed, incredibilmente, cita 3 delle 5 da me elencate. Milano, a sorpresa, viene messa al quinto posto, Londra, un po’ piu’ indietro, al settimo e Singapore al ventitreesimo. Non so se le altre due citta’ da me scelte (Tokyo e Bangkok) siano incluse nella lista dalla quarantaduesima posizione in su’, pero’ sorprende un po non vedere Tokyo tra i primi posti da visitare.

5 citta’

Questa mattina stavo pensando a quali citta’ avessi scelto se, invece di fare questo Blog su 5 paesi, il Blog fosse stato dedicato alle 5 citta’ che per vari motivi considero migliori. Inizialmente la cosa mi sembrava piuttosto semplice anche perche’ 2 o 3 citta’ chiaramente prevalevano su tutte. Il problema e’ stato trovare le ultime 2. Nel momento in cui sto scrivendo la classifica e’ la seguente:

  1. Tokyio – in una sola parola, fantastica
  2. Londra – multietnica e piena di vita
  3. Milano – sono nato a Milano
  4. Singapore – moderna, pulita ed ordinata
  5. Bangkok – il contrario di Singapore, sporca ed incasinata

Voi quali citta’ scegliereste? Condividete alcune delle mie scelte?

This morning I was thinking ‘if I was going to write a Blog on 5 cities, instead of 5 countries, which would I pick? Initially I though it was was a simple task as I was able to easily identify 2 or 3 cities, but I could not decide on the last 2. At the time I’m writing this post the list is as follow:

  1. Tokyo – in one word, fantastic
  2. London – multiethnic and full of life
  3. Milan – I was born in Milan
  4. Singapore – modern, clean and tidy
  5. Bangkok – the opposite of the above, dirty and chaotic

Do you agree with me? Which cities would you pick?


Ciao a tutti! Finalmente trovo un po’ di tempo per scrivere sul blog dopo i vari tentativi fatti per capire come funziona questo mezzo/strumento fino a qualche giorno fa’ a me completamente estraneo. I risultati dei miei tentativi non sono stati fantastici ma neanche cosi’ disastrosi da farmi rinunciare. Proseguo sperando di migliorare presto.

Oggi, qui a Londra, giornata spettacolare. Sole e cielo meraviglioso fin dal mattino presto e temperatura gradevole dopo il lungo periodo di freddo che ci ha perseguitati. Il clima imprevisto mi ha fatto cambiare programmi. Ieri mi ero convinto a passare la giornata in casa facendo pulizie al mattino e spendendo il pomeriggio studiando Giapponese e scrivendo sul blog ma oggi non ci ho pensato troppo e sono uscito di casa. Volevo approfittare della bella giornata per fare qualche foto ma poi ho cambiato idea. Sono andato a fare un giro in centro e dopo aver comprato un giornale ho deciso di passare il resto della giornata in uno Starbucks in zona centrale dove ho preso il mio solito espresso (doppio).

Appena arrivato a casa mi sono messo a controllare internet e sul sito della Repubblica ho trovato un articolo con foto su Tokyo, dove si spiegava che causa bella giornata il monte Fuji si poteva vedere chiaramente. Che coincidenza!! Londra e Tokyo (alcune tra le mie citta’ favorite) con giornate fantastiche e che foto da Tokyo!!

Speriamo che la settimana continui cosi. A presto.