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Tadasu Takamine

Tadasu Takamine, who was born in Kagoshima, Japan, in 1968, began as a member of the influential Japanese multimedia-performance group Dumb Type, which has existed since the nineteen-eighties. He has now been active for over a decade as a freelance director and artist, and has devoted himself to a theatre practice that he develops experimentally in workshops in dialogue with local participants. Both in the theatre as well as in artistic projects, he grapples with gnawing social questions provocatively and with dark humor.

This can already be read in the title of his most recent exhibition project “Cool Japan” (2012): with it, he makes reference to Cool Japan, the campaign for marketing Japan that was launched in 2011. In light of the ecological effects of the reactor catastrophe in Fukushima, promoting qualities such as the ‘coolness’ or serenity of the Japanese people illustrates the political efforts to utilize the population within the framework of the image campaign. On the attempt of the government, quasi in the slipstream of the catastrophe, to exert influence on the collective and individual identity, the artist expressed himself as follows in an interview: ‘There are many things that simply do not penetrate our awareness at all – perhaps because we are being cleverly manipulated in a way that prevents us from paying too much attention to these things. We finally now find ourselves in a situation in which we are actually confronted with the experience of these things.’

Takamine also dealt with an effective system of control and cultural influence in his probably best-known work, the playful video “God Bless America” (2002). In a stop-motion animation, one sees the artist and his assistant in a blood red room kneading a huge head of clay in such a way that this head seems to sing the song in the title. What is, however, more interesting than the huge singing head, which is vaguely reminiscent of George W. Bush, is the everyday artist’s life that takes place behind him: food is eaten, television is watched and sleep is had, also with one another. With this, shortly before the Iraq War, the artist created an image for everyday life in the shadow not so much of the attacks of September 11th as of the public image cultivation and demonstrations of power that is justified by American politics as a result of them, and the impossibility of evading from them as an individual.

“Kimura-San” (2004), the artist’s arguably most controversial video work, also deals with the theme/subject of the possibilities for individual self-determination. The video installation circles around a victim of the Morinaga scandal, in which 138 infants died from milk products poisoned with arsenic in the nineteen-fifties, Mr. Kimura, who no longer has any more control over his body and cannot speak. The artist, who was responsible for caring for him for five years, examines the sexual life of Mr. Kimura in his video, and in doing so poses general questions about the sexuality of disabled individuals as well as how they are depicted and addressed. In the video, Takamine also speaks about Kimura’s courage, his powerlessness to do things openly. His video interprets how Kimura deals with his sexuality as a social metaphor for taking on challenges and as a plea for social responsibility.

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Events by DAAD
Japan Syndrome - Berlin Version II, Live-Video und Audio-Performance

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