Thursday, October 20, 2016

"Provoke" at Le Bal

A day of slogging through seq01_sh06 cleanup and then going to "Provoke", an exhibition of japanese avant garde photographs from the period 1960-1975, held at Le Bal gallery.

The gallery itself is located on an unassuming side street off a main drag, far from, seemingly, other art venues, surrounded by cheap clothing stores, kebab houses, etc., on the fringes of the 18th arrondissment of Paris.

The exposition, treating the unusual topic of renegade artists in Japan during the mid twentieth century fighting the effects of consumerism, American military occupation, and  a stifling government, throws a very interesting spotlight on a small group of artists influenced by Da Da, Surrealism, and French movie directors such as Jean Luc Goddard. Easier now to understand the appearance of berets and round glasses on Osamu Tezuka (see previous post).
Quite surprising to become aware of such a movement in Japan, which seemed more easily characterized at this time by strict government control, burgeoning consumerism and material success, and conformism. It was interesting to see how protest and art reflected, at least in the work of this group of photographers, the atmosphere of rebellion and unrest that gave such a vivid and vital feeling to much of the world, especially during the mid-late 1960's.
Using the camera as a tool to capture the subjective, the fragmentary, the violent, the chaotic, and the absurd, Provoke's vehicle of an underground publication to foment intellectual and socio-political rebellion provides a surprising and unanticipated window into Japanese society during this time period.
One film concerned protests instigated by farmers who built underground tunnels to live in in an attempt to prevent the building of Narita Airport on their farmland. The fresh contrasts and sense of meaningful protest of the '60's come to life in this informal film.
And the Beatles and Yoko Ono figured here as well, if only briefly. The 1960's were exciting times.

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