News: Min Tanaka in New York

Min Tanaka: Photos by Masato Okada 1975-2005 October 21, 2007 ~ January, 2008
@P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of MoMA, New York

The striking photo show will open at P.S.1 and Min will dance at P.S.1 on Nov 16, 17, and 18, and most probably at MoMA (on 16th), for the city-wide PERFORMA Festival. His new series of anonymous, non-theatrical dance, Locus Focus, will be presented.

Performances by Butoh master Min Tanaka on occasion of the exhibition Min Tanaka: Photos by Masato Okada 1975-2005
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, a Museum of Modern Art affiliate Organized by P.S.1 International Adjunct Curator Kazue Kobata and Sumie Tanabe, editor of the photo book Between Mountain and Sea (2007).
November 16-18, 2007
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Trained in classical ballet and modern dance, acclaimed Butoh dancer/choreographer Min Tanaka has been performing internationally for over 30 years. In 2006 Tanaka launched a series of performances entitled Locus Focus, which abandoned staged performance in favor of often open-air dances in parks, streets, fields, and seashores in Japan, Indonesia, Spain, and China. Through the years P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center has hosted various performances by Tanaka, including his legendary 1978 dance on the snowy rooftop of the Clocktower Gallery, which led to collaborations with artists such as Richard Serra, John Cage, and Susan Sontag. As part of Performa 07, Tanaka returns to P.S.1 to present his New York debut of the series.

Min Tanaka (b. 1945, Japan) is one the world's leading Butoh dancers and choreographers. Tanaka studied with the founder of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata, and has won numerous awards for his debut in the 2002 samurai film Tasogare Seibei. In July 2000, Tanaka and his Butoh troupe Tokason enacted Dreaming Trees-Flying in Nexus on the P.S.1 rooftop.

Kazue Kobata is a Professor of Inter-Media Art at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music where she currently lives and works. Since 1985 Kobata has been an International Adjunct Curator for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and has co-organized, among others, Buzz Club-News from Japan in 2001 and in 2004, Perpetual Moment-Visions from within Okinawa and Korea. She is currently presenting the exhibition Min Tanaka: Photos by Masato Okada 1975-2005 in collaboration with Sumie Tanabe, editor of Between Mountain and Sea (2006).

On Masato Okada, by Kazue Kobata

Every time I arrived at the performance site, he would quietly appear out of nowhere and come closer, holding his Hasselblad in his left hand and rubbing the camera body. He'd say, "Maido (thanks again)!" His dark pupils would give a sharp glance at me, and a moment later, they were turned somewhere else. "It's #$&@ today, isn't it?" or something, he'd say with a heavy Western-Japan accent. But I could seldom understand what he meant.

Whenever I learned that Masato Okada would photograph Min's dance, the first thing that came to my mind - before the actual shooting - was his vantage point. To be honest, it was a somewhat odd idea that he would take a portrait of a dancer or a person. The life-size two-dimensional composition of a portrait - to be done by Okada - felt odd to me. This feeling was not something I got through conversations with him; it was something I deciphered through observing him. His eyes were restlessly moving about; he was in and out of my sight, unnoticed, as though he was restraining himself not to stay put at one point.

One day in 1977 he asked, "You want to go?" and took Min Tanaka and myself, the sole spectator, to Yume-no-shima (Dream Island) on the edge of the Bay of Tokyo. It was still then used as a waste dump site. Heaves of dumped and rotting materials just lay there, floating above dark water and discharging smelly methane gas. He drove his Hi-Ace van and broke through the iron-net gate for dumper trucks. We found ourselves in another world... at high noon. A world exclusive to abandoned beings. Endless traces of "present moments" and "actions" were breathing. Hundreds of bankbooks, hundreds of fabric swatch bundles, and poisonous industrial waste in the process of decomposition and mutation... The gate was an entrance open only to him. I suspected he had secret moments of correspondence... alone.

Excerpt from Between Mountain and Sea: Photography of Masato Okada, edited by Sumie Tanabe

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