The playful insistence and explosive subversion of Japanese experimental
film traditions remain neglected terrain for North American audiences.
In an effort to globalize what has often been a primarily Western
understanding of postwar experimentalism and a distinctly American
disinterest in Japanese filmic experimentation, JPEX: Japanese
Experimental Film and Video, 1955-Now documents the radical media
of Japanese experimental film, video, and animation at its fiftieth
The Film and Video Center presents three programs from the five-part
series–on formal experimentation, critiques of political
order, interrogations of systems of sex and gender, the experimental
documentary-fiction of Matsumoto Toshio, and contemporary experimentation –provide
a rare opportunity to see the extraordinary vitality of Japanese
experimental film and video work.
Program 1: Expanded Visions
October 14 • 7:30pm
In Expanded Visions, the first program of the JPEX ser-ies, the
extraordinary canon of mid-century Japanese formal experimentation
comprised by well-recognized experimentalists such as
Ito Takashi, Matsumoto Toshio, Nakajima Takashi, Okuyama Jun’ichi,
and Yamazaki Hiro-shi, is expanded and enriched in the light of
the powerful and pioneering work of feminist filmmaker Idemitsu
Mako, animators Tanaami Keiichi and Furukawa Taku, and contemporary
contributors to formal play.
Program 2: Exploded States:
War, Politics and National Identity
October 15 • 7pm
In Exploded States: War Politics, and National
Identity, the importance of political and social critique for post-war
Japanese experimentation is made apparent. Here, Japanese experimental
film and video comes to its closest intersection with experimental
theater and avant-garde performance. The films draw from and contribute
to “happenings” staged by avant-gardists in the Hi
Red Center group, an intercontinental Fluxus movement, and Hijikata
Tatsumi’s butoh dance. Viewed together, works by Hosoe Eiko,
Kawanaka Nobuhiro, and Terayama Shuji, among others, exhibit a
delightful irony and playful insubordination to state, collective,
and perspectival authority.
Program 3: Sex underground
October 15 • 9pm
The films and videos in Sex Underground rebel against
workaday conventions of gender, sexuality, the body, and subjectivity.
Utilizing theatrical traditions and a powerful per-formative agency,
film and video makers such as Ito Takashi, Nakajima Takashi, Donald
Richie, Terayama Shuji and Imaizumi Koichi subvert and then reconfigure
sexual difference, queer subjectivity, and gender performativity.
From Idemitsu Mako’s lighthearted invocation of tra-ditional
gender roles and Tamano Shin’ichi’s perversely magical
realism to Saito Yukie’s terrifying and oppressive exploration
of male-female power dynamics, the films and videos in Sex Underground
collectively suggest unexpected, yet open pathways for desire and
Co-curated by Chicago-based filmmaker and film programmer Michelle
Puetz and UCI Assistant Professor Jonathan M. Hall, the JPEX project
has been supported by the Humanities Center and the Film and Video
Center at UCI as well as by the University of Chicago. JPEX begins
its North American tour from the UCI campus. These screenings are
co-sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies.