History of Our World

Butoh | Shades of Darkness

Posted in Dance, Performance by B on June 1, 2010

Kazuo Ohno, Water Lilies, 1987. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine. “Steps of the dead carrying love, bewilderment of the dead searching for love.”

Kazuo Ohno, Dead Sea, 1985. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine. “The dead start running…”

Tatsumi Hijikata, Shizukana le, 1973. Photograph by Makoto Onozuka. “I keep one of my sisters alive in my body when I am absorbed in creating a Butoh piece, she tears off the darkness in my body and eats more than is necessary of it…when she stands up in my body I sit down impulsively.”

Tatsumi Hijikata, Shizukana le, 1973. Photograph by Makoto Onozuka. “My mother used to say: Run with the heart of the blind.”

A Dairakuda-Kan member after a performance in their theatre, 1983. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine.

U. Amagatsu, Unetsu. Photograph by Masafumi Sakamoto.

Unetsu. Photograph by Masafumi Sakamoto.

Sebi. Photograph by Mitsutoshi Hanaga.

Ariadone. Photograph by Mitsutoshi Hanaga.

Natsu Nakajima, The Garden, 1982. Photograph by Nourit Masson-Sekine.

Renai Butoh-ha, choreographed by Tatsumi Hijikata, 1984. Photograph by Masato Okada. “Our bodies love tradition; I feel Butoh when I face my traditional body…Avant-garde is an intense love affair with tradition.” – Min Tanaka.

Emerging from Japan during the turbulent 1960s, Butoh has become one of the major developments of contemporary dance and revolutionized the way in which people view what dance is, and can be. Butoh is a form of expression that draws upon traditional Japanese movements, such as the mincing steps that one must take when wearing a kimono, and by allowing the body to speak for itself through unconscious and improvised movement. By combining these and other elements such as, mime, theatrics, Noh, Kabuki and even the Chinese arts of Chi kung and Tai chi, hybrid movements have developed that belong neither to Western dance nor to traditional Japanese dance. Thus, Butoh’s powerful imagery and its radical new approach have stirred the imagination of a growing audience and become a strong source of inspiration for dancers the world over.


Butoh | Shades of Darkness

Jean Viala: Toshiaki Suzuki: Nourit Masson-Sekine





Kazuo Ohno

Tatsumi Hijikata




Seascapes | Hiroshi Sugimoto

Posted in Art, Photography by R on December 7, 2009

North Pacific Ocean, Iwate, 1986

Sea of Japan, Hokkaido, 1986

North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989

Tasman Sea, Ngarupupu, 1990

Black Sea, Ozuluce, 1991

Red Sea, Safaga, 1992

Tyrrhenain Sea, Scilla, 1993

Water and air.

So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.

The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there [be] water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let’s just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea.

Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.



Hiroshi Sugimoto

Museum of Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles



Hiroshi Sugimoto



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Yohji Yamamoto

Posted in Fashion by A on October 28, 2009

Yohji Yamamoto

Fine Weave Woollen Dress, Spring Summer 1988 / Loose Coat with Crushed Effect, Autumn Winter 1984 – 1985.

Yohji Yamamoto

Yohji Yamamoto in Paris, making final revisions to the show for Spring Summer 1991.

Yohji Yamamoto

New York Catalogue, Autumn Winter 1984 / 1985.

Yohji Yamamoto

A fitting in progress in Yohji Yamamoto’s workroom in Tokyo.

Yohji Yamamoto

Evening Gown in Black Gabardine, Spring Summer 1993 / Cutting to the millimetre, rather than the centimetre.

“People wear my clothes to make a statement,” explained Yohji Yamamoto, summing up, in the laconic style we have become familiar with over the last twenty or more years – a contribution to fashion that constitutes an exploration of fashion itself. For this was not the leisured opulence of haute couture, the flashy brilliance of prêt-à-porter, nor even the futuristic vision of the avant-garde. What became clear, gradually but inexorably, as we followed the Japanese designer’s repousal of the great archetypes of fashion, was that his choice of a neutral vocabulary, his adoption of a simplified palette and range, was the power and essential difference of the Yamamoto style. It was an approach which, while taking into account the contribution of Paris couture, and indeed traditional Japanese costume, nevertheless set out quite deliberately to tap new areas of creative potential in the domain of fashion in all its modes and manifestations – a world that had experienced more fresh starts in a single turbulent century than it had in the previous thousand years.

When the first Yamamoto model insinuated itself into the brilliant, structured, over-accessorized world of Paris prêt-à-porter in the eighties, the line was loose-fitting. The garment stood right away from the body it delicately encased, apparently never touching it. Usually thick, opaque and dark in color, it often seemed to be standing up by itself. Of positively medieval severity, it had a second-hand look about it that prompted some to describe it as post-punk (grunge was still light years away). It looked lived-in, as though it had acquired a patina with the passage of time, like those items in our wardrobe that have become special favorites. It reflected that hatred of what is new that is so wonderfully exemplified by a certain sort of English dandy who used to have his boots broken in for him, and got his valet to wear his camel-hair suits for the first couple of years. To Wim Wenders, who made a feature film about him, the designer confided: “My dream is to draw time.”

One thinks of all those oversized capes, unstructured coats, and asymmetric jackets. “Symmetry – the symbol of perfection – is not sufficiently human.” And it is, precisely, to humanity that this master of scissors and fabric looked for his inspiration – to the work clothes worn by hundreds of anonymous figures; for example, those men and women from the German heartland who posed for the photographer August Sander between the wars. To boilersuits, dungarees, overalls, pea jackets. Even the railwayman’s outfit made up of layers – the apotheosis of the tramp who carries the world on his back. A garment that becomes one with the person who wears it, so much a part of him that it is entirely subordinated to the force of his personality. “Whether a season’s fashion is interesting or not does not depend on the designers who created it, but on those who see and buy it.”

Although he would not go so far as to lay claim to the status of artist, in his approach to clothes Yohji Yamamoto shows himself to be exceptionally responsive to contemporary trends – in the same way that couturiers of preceding generations responded to Cubism, say, or the Ballets Russes or Pop Art. Caught up in the delirium of the seventies, Andy Warhol was heard to remark, “When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums.” (indeed he went so far as to reserve the formula, explaining that he liked Rome because it was a sort of museum, “like Bloomingdale’s.”) Arte Povera went further still, with its refusal to be seduced by smooth surfaces, Pop colors and the consumer society, opting instead for basic elements that had not been transmuted: wood shavings, rags, mud, coal, and so on. In the “roaring eighties,” Yohji Yamamoto would attempt something comparable – one of a small number who tried to break away from a fossilized conception of what clothes were. He did this by disrupting the codes by which clothes made their appeal; by rethinking the glamorous signals sent out by their external appearance; by redefining their relationship with the male or female body; and, ultimately – to near universal incomprehension – by radically reinterpreting the respective contributions of beauty and ugliness, past and future, memory and modernity.


Yohji Yamamoto


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Black Than Crows / Number (N)ine, HUgE Magazine, December 2006

Posted in Fashion, Photography by R on October 27, 2009

Black Than Crows - Number (N)ine, Eight Peace, huGe Magazine, December 2006_I

Black Than Crows - Number (N)ine, Eight Peace, huGe Magazine, December 2006_II

Black Than Crows - Number (N)ine, Eight Peace, huGe Magazine, December 2006_III

Black Than Crows - Number (N)ine, Eight Peace, huGe Magazine, December 2006_IV

The romantic ideal of the tortured artiste is always in fashion — even so, the Number (N)ine designer Takahiro Miyashita seems to take special pains to suffer for his craft. When planning the portrait that accompanies this article, he asked that his face be obscured, perhaps fearing that the gigantic frames he wears wouldn’t provide sufficient cover. During our interview, he fielded several questions with enigmatic pronouncements like ‘‘You would have to ask my brain’’ and ‘‘I am a shadow.’’ At times, he simply stared into space, as if submerged in an autistic trance. Thus the sobriquet ‘‘Taka the oyster.’’

Miyashita is part of a relatively new wave of Japanese designers,including Junya Watanabe, Undercover’s Jun Takahashi and Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments and Woolrich Woolen Mills, who are obsessed with American style; in Miyashita’s case, his dark side yields clothes of paradoxical luminosity. His fall collection, My Own Private Portland, features updated Northwest classics like plaid shirts, fur-lined trapper hats and nubby, grungy cardigans. In the spring of 2009, his Lonesome Heroes dudes will be sporting a mishmash of brocades and Navajo patterns.

At 16, Miyashita came to the States and fell in love with Americana. While his contemporaries were struggling with algebra and first dates, he was assisting stylists for Japanese magazines like the defunct Check Mate. ‘‘I got expelled from school because I did so many things,’’ he says cryptically, before admitting to having smoked pot. Miyashita spent his days on the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya, the epicenters of Tokyo teenage street style; what little money he had he spent on clothes, which he’d tear apart in order to remake and customize them. Through this process he taught himself how to design and started working with Nepenthes, a label that specialized in American-inspired clothing. Eventually he began traveling regularly to the States for research, focusing on cities like Austin, Tex.; Butte, Mont.; and his favorite, Portland, Ore.

Miyashita wears his pop-culture infatuations on his sleeve — and everywhere else. On a recent afternoon in Paris, he sported old khakis with Birkenstocks, a lumberjack shirt, a Victorian-inspired vest, a dangling fur satchel, an assortment of necklaces and trinkets, a jeweled guitar pin, a large stone ring, a leather cuff, a big plastic watch, a rakish hat and a crumpled cigarette pack worn as a brooch. His shows are set to the tracks of idols like Nirvana and Johnny Cash. He constantly adds to the collection of vintage clothes, records and images that inform his work; ‘‘The Outsiders’’ and ‘‘Rumble Fish’’ are two of his favorite movies, and he’s crazy for Joseph Szabo’s pictures of American teenagers in the ’70s and Slater Bradley’s ‘‘Doppelgänger Trilogy’’ featuring Kurt Cobain.

‘‘What sets us apart from older Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto is that we are much more influenced by youth culture and, especially, music,’’ says Jun Takahashi, Miyashita’s close friend. He’s right: while their predecessors have traditionally focused on intellectual experiments with texture and shape, these new designers have an innate understanding of global street trends. Miyashita, who not surprisingly loves American punk rock, has formed two bands, the Highstreets and the Ivory. ‘‘I still believe that music can change culture,’’ he says. (The name Number (N)ine refers to the Beatles’ ‘‘Revolution 9.’’) ‘‘I just made a song called ‘Dark Shadow,’ ’’ he says. ‘‘The lyrics say, ‘Please, please, please kill me.” All my work, whether it’s in fashion or music, is about rebellion and not being conventional.’’

He recently traveled to Portland to see Wipers, a favorite band, but says he’d instantly give up music if he had to choose between that and fashion. His men’s line is growing steadily, and he hopes to further develop his women’s range, which at the moment consists only of adapted versions of his men’s collection. ‘‘Without fashion, I would have nothing,’’ he says earnestly. ‘‘It’s my life.’’

It’s the quintessential designer sound bite, but in this case it feels painfully real.

– Armand Limnander


Image / HUgE Magazine

Text / T Magazine


Number (N)ine

Eight Peace

Armand Limnander


Julius MA

Posted in Fashion by R on September 28, 2009


Julius MA



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Julius, Fall/Winter 09/10

Posted in Fashion by R on June 23, 2009
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Masahisa Fukase, The Solitude Of The Raven, 1986

Posted in Art, Photography by C on May 24, 2009






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The Viridi-Anne

Posted in Fashion by B on May 11, 2009
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Julius MA, Fall/Winter 2009

Posted in Fashion by R on April 12, 2009
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Attachment, Fall/Winter 2009 & Attachment Magazine vol.06 Berlin

Posted in Fashion, Print by R on January 31, 2009
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