Messages From the Avant-Garde: EAI x Collaborative Cataloging Japan

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)
264 Canal Street #3W New York, NY 10013
April 4th, 2024 7:00 pm ET

EAI and Collaborative Cataloging Japan (CCJ) are thrilled to present a selection of video and film highlighting the exchange of avant-garde experimentation in New York and Japan during the 1960s and 70s. The screening is organized in anticipation of the forthcoming exhibition Community of Images: Japanese Moving Image Artists in the US, 1960s-1970s, on view at Philadelphia Art Alliance of the University of the Arts June 14-August 9. The program will be introduced by Ann Adachi-Tasch, Executive Director of Collaborative Cataloging Japan. RSVP here.

Jud Yalkut’s moving image account of the 4th Annual New York Avant Garde Festival, held in Central Park in 1966, accompanies works by Japanese artists Masanori Ōe and Akiko Iimura, underscoring shared engagement with intermedia innovation, psychedelia, and ongoing political upheaval occurring simultaneously in the United States and Japan. Both Yalkut’s film-video and Ōe’s Head Game (1967) use their own experimental practices to document countercultural events in Central Park, framing the realignment of humanity’s relationship with nature and the senses as fundamental to forming a new, harmonious social order. In Yalkut’s piece, shot on film and edited on video, artists and their families take over the park with performance and installation, and in Head Game, participants stage “The Great Be-In” in protest of the Vietnam war. Engagement with then-burgeoning media technology, generating vivid new sounds and images, serves a double purpose in resisting war, social conformism, governmental authoritarianism, and the top-down media practices in mainstream journalism reifying these realities.

Akiko Imura, an active participant in the New York underground scene, and the partner of Takahiko Iimura, also layers experimental imagery over a natural setting in Mon Petit Album (1974), folding sprawling, overlapped film footage of a pastoral scene under an original soundtrack by Jacques Bekaert combining flute and violin phrasings atop subtly processed sounds. Iimura herself drifts in and out of the frame, making direct eye contact with the camera while embedded in the landscape—a powerful act asserting autonomy over her own image as a woman. Iimura, Ōe, and Yalkut’s technological, visual, and aural experimentation opens sideways realities at once distinctly subjective and grounded in the universe outside the image.

Through engagement with their respective avant-garde scenes in Japan and New York, Iimura, Ōe, and Yalkut share many points of contact—artists like Shigeko Kubota, Nam June Paik, and Alvin and Mary Lucier, and collectives like USCO (Us Company or the Company of Us), Newsreel, and Third World Studios. These artists, their peers, and the interplay between their aesthetic and political inquiries paint a picture of an international avant-garde far more vast than Western art history’s commentary on the U.S. and Europe, with invaluable exchange between New York and Japan.

Collaborative Cataloging Japan is an international non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese experimental moving image produced from the 1950s through 1980s, including fine art on film and video, documentations of performance, independently produced documentaries, experimental animation and experimental television. The mission of CCJ is to preserve, document and disseminate these works, and enable their appreciation by a wider audience.

Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI)’s venue is located at 264 Canal Street, 3W, near several Canal Street subway stations. Our floor is accessible by elevator (63" × 60" car, 31" door) and stairway. Due to the age and other characteristics of the building, our bathrooms are not ADA-accessible, though several such bathrooms are located nearby. If you have questions about access, please contact in advance of the event.

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