Video (1hr, 8min)

Artist and researcher Shimada Yoshiko discusses Gendaishicho-sha Bigakkō (1969–75), an alternative art school in Japan.

In the aftermath of the 1968 student movement, the radical publishing company Gendaishicho-sha founded Gendaishicho-sha Bigakkō in Tokyo in 1969. Bigakkō was established at a time of great change, and was envisioned by its founder Ishii Kyoji as a “movement to change the world by changing the way the world is perceived.” Among the teachers were major Japanese artists of the 1960s, such as Nakanishi Natsuyuki and Akasegawa Genpei (of Hi Red Center), the painters Nakamura Hiroshi and Kikuhata Mokuma (of Kyushu-ha), and Matsuzawa Yutaka (a forerunner of Japanese Conceptualism). In addition to workshops, there were lectures by cutting-edge scholars and performance artists such as Shibusawa Tatsuhiko (translator of the Marquis de Sade), Hijikata Tatsumi (a founder of Butoh dance), and Nakajima Yoshio. 

In this talk, Shimada introduces two principles of Bigakkō—“tewaza” (hand skills) and close and full “master-pupil” relationships—and how each artist tried to embody these principles in their own unique methodology. By locating Bigakkō in the sociopolitical and cultural context of post-1968 Japan, she suggests ways this experiment in alternative art education for social change could be relevant today, and the kind of new strategies required.

Free and open to the public with registration.

Address: A Space, 10/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan

Shimada Yoshiko (b. 1959, Tokyo) lives and works in Chiba, Japan. She graduated from Scripps College, USA, in 1982, and received her PhD from Kingston University, London, in 2015. Her artwork explores themes of cultural memory and the role of women in the Asia-Pacific War.  Her works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

In recent years, Shimada has been researching post-1968 art and politics in Japan. She has curated exhibitions, such as Anti-Academy (John Hansard Gallery, 2013), Nakajima Yoshio Syndrome (Atsukobarouh, 2015), and From Nirvana to Catastrophe (Ota Fine Arts, 2017), for which she wrote and edited the catalogues. She is currently working on the Matsuzawa Yutaka Archive in Nagano, and serving as Director of the Matsuzawa Yutaka Psi Room Foundation. She lectures on Japanese art and politics of the 1960s and 70s, and art and feminisms in Japan at The University of Tokyo.

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