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Artist presented by Simon Baker

Minoru Hirata

4 July - 18 September

10H00 - 19H30

Minoru Hirata is perhaps best known for his brilliantly intense accounts of Japanese performance art—particularly the groups Neo-dada, Hi-Red Center and Zero Dimension. However, his photographic record of performance art reveals a more complex and sophisticated perspective than one would usually expect from straightforward documentation. As well as recording the activities of the Japanese avant-gardes, Minoru Hirata was a committed photographer in his own right, his principal subject being the island of Okinawa (occupied by the USA between 1945 and 1972). Minoru Hirata’s work in Okinawa, from the 1960s to the present day, is as sensitive, engaged and original as his better-known performance practice: showing the same experimental confidence and originality in relation to the politics of everyday life (under occupation and otherwise), as he did to the spectacular world of the avant-garde.

Simon Baker

Minoru Hirata first came in contact with the Tokyo avant-garde in 1958, when he saw Ushio Shinohara’s outrageous work at the jury-free Yomiuri Independent Exhibition held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Soon afterward, in 1959 or 1960, Hirata visited Shinohara at his residence- studio in Tokyo on assignment from an American photo agency. This shooting brought the two closer and Hirata began to avidly document the performative activities of Shinohara, as well as a number of impor- tant practitioners of Anti-Art (Han-geijutsu), including Neo Dada, Hi Red Center, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Zero Jigen (literally ‘zero dimension’). Action is the definitive ingredient of what Hirata chronicled. He calls himself the ‘conspirator’ of these artists and collectives who staged their ‘art in action.’ Indeed, he created a body of significant art-historical documents which also reveals a tremendous degree of photographic authenticity. Hirata’s long engagement with Okinawa dates back to 1967, before the islands were returned to Japan from the U.S. in 1972. Upon his first visit, he was immediately enthralled by the beauty of Okinawa’s coral reefs and seascapes. Yet what made a greater impression was Okinawa’s complex geopolitical history. Since the end of WWII, valuable land resources of the archipelago have been occupied, and are still occupied, by a host of American military bases. His photo- graphs are informed by his deep sympathy for the plight of the Okinawa people, whose dream for independent existence still eludes them even after their land was returned to Japanese governance.
Reiko Tomii
Minoru Hirata first came in contact with the Tokyo avant-garde in 1958, when he saw Ushio Shinohara’s outrageous work at the jury-free Yomiuri Independent Exhibition held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. Soon afterward, in 1959 or 1960, Hirata visited Shinohara at his residence-studio in Tokyo on assignment from an American photo agency. This shooting brought the two closer and Hirata began to avidly document the performative activities of Shinohara, as well as a number of impor- tant practitioners of Anti-Art (Han-geijutsu), including Neo Dada, Hi Red Center, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Zero Jigen (literally ‘zero dimension’). Action is the definitive ingredient of what Hirata chronicled. He calls himself the ‘conspirator’ of these artists and collectives who staged their ‘art in action.’ Indeed, he created a body of significant art-historical documents which also reveals a tremendous degree of photographic authenticity. Hirata’s long engagement with Okinawa dates back to 1967, before the islands were returned to Japan from the U.S. in 1972. Upon his first visit, he was immediately enthralled by the beauty of Okinawa’s coral reefs and seascapes. Yet what made a greater impression was Okinawa’s complex geopolitical history. Since the end of WWII, valuable land resources of the archipelago have been occupied, and are still occupied, by a host of American military bases. His photographs are informed by his deep sympathy for the plight of the Okinawa people, whose dream for independent existence still eludes them even after their land was returned to Japanese governance.

Reiko Tomii

Exhibition organised with the collaboration of the Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.
Framing by Jean-Pierre Gapihan, Paris.
Exhibition organised with the collaboration of the Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo.
Framing by Jean-Pierre Gapihan, Paris.