Ishii Mitsutaka and Black Sun

Serpentine South Gallery 22–24 May 1986 Free

Ishii Mitsutaka performed at the Serpentine Gallery in connection with the Japanese photographic exhibition Black Sun: The Eyes of Four.

Mitsutaka, the celebrated solo Butoh dance artist, performed a dance focusing attention on the enigmatic demon figure running through Eikoh Hosoe’s Kamaitachi series of photographs from 1969 featured in the exhibition Black Sun: The Eyes of Four. The person posing in this role in the series of photographs was Hijikata Tatsumi, leader and founder of the Ankoku Butoh movement (Dance of Total Darkness). Hijikata Tatsumi died in Tokyo on 21 January 1986, shortly before the exhibition, in many ways making Ishii’s performance a tribute. Ishii had been an important figure in the development of Butoh, and had collaborated with Hijikata from the early period in the late 1950s and early 60s.

In the Kamaitachi series and his film Navel and the Atomic Bomb (1960), Eikoh caught the spirit and power of Hijikata’s dance that inspired the establishment of more than 30 Butoh companies and soloists in Japan. By the end of the 1950s, Hijikata and his early collaborators had broken with all established traditional and modern dance associations in Japan.

This performance was the first time since 1973 that Ishii had danced in London.

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