Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits
Bruce Baird on Tatsumi Hijikata and Butoh
With a screening of Donald Richie’s Sacrifice/Gisei,1959

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lecture and Screening

Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street
$5 Entrance Donation
Members Free
Limited capacity, entrance on a first come, first served basis
What has become of our bodies?

– Tatsumi Hijikata

Richard Hawkins' series of collages exhibited in Whitney Biennial 2012 stem from research into the notebooks of Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986), the founder of Ankoku-Butoh, a post-war Japanese dance form. While Butoh is widely considered an expression of trauma, its stylized movements twisting and distorting the body, Hawkins brings to light Hijikata’s own emphasis on erotic transgression and perversity – his notebooks pairing images of Western art with graphically sexual notations that reveal Hijikata’s interest in the writings of Jean Genet and Antonin Artaud.

Bruce Baird is a lecturer in Japanese culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the author of Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits, a comprehensive study of Tatsumi Hijikata and Butoh. His presentation addresses the influence and ideas of Hijikata in the formation of Butoh, while equally considering the early role the transgressive and sexually explicit played in the movement, as conceived and documented within Hijikata’s “butoh-fu” notebooks.

This talk will be accompanied by a rare screening of Sacrifice/Gisei, a short film produced by Hijikata and the preeminent scholar on Japanese cinema Donald Richie in 1959, which documents an early Butoh performance.

This program forms part of a weekend symposium curated by Artists Space under the title Public Bodies, Private Parts.
As an element of Artists Space’s curatorial programming partnership with Whitney Biennial 2012, this weekend of talks, discussions and screenings looks at representations of “hidden” biographies, particularly in relation to notions of “perversion.”

Still from Donald Richie, Sacrifice/Gisei, 1959.