An alternative protocol
Seiji Shimoda visits Bangladesh
'Our lifestyle is continuously pushing us farther away from nature and the body,' laments Seiji Shimoda, in a write-up, where he enshrines his emotions following his recent visit to Bangladesh.
Known for his performances premised on an interventionism that evinces a keen interest in every-day experience, Shimoda, in order to transcend the ordinary and the mundane, starts with what is rudimentary, but only to ascend gradually to the extremity by subjecting the body to situations which often equal ritualistic 'ordealism'.
It is his fame around this unique form of art that finally set the stage for his visit to this revarine land. For the first time in his life he set foot on Bangladeshi soil to attend a workshop organized by Porapara Space for Artists, an artists' cooperative based in Chittagong.
The second Porapara Performance Art Workshop 2010, between March 4-7, where Shimoda was the conductor, had set its venue at Shilpakala Academy, Chittagong, and an agenda to inject a heavy dose of enthusiasm around art that places the body and existence at the centre rather than the idea of what is representational.
Before joining with the participants in Chittagong, where some 30 artists awaited new experience through the maestro's intervention, Shimoda had spent an evening in Dhaka giving a presentation at the Dhaka Art Center on performance art.
Seiji Shimoda is one of Japan's most active, well-known and respected performance artists. He is a performer, poet, arts advocate, organizer, curator and lecturer at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo.
Since his graduation from the Osaka City University in 1977, Shimoda's work has been presented at over 100 international festivals, conferences and galleries, in more than 30 countries across the world. Like most of today's performance artists, he too seems like an itinerant personality, one who is also always at the ready to transform a given site by the sheer presence of the body itself.
Lucky enough to be a part of the Fluxus movement, Shimoda is now director of Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF), established in 1993.
In 2000, Shimoda was the first Asian artist to receive the Bessie Award in New York. Shimoda's own performance is a combination of action poetry and movement. He employs simple objects like chopsticks, a chair, a table and of course his own body to create his performances which are a far cry from the technology-based art of some of the present-day enthusiasts of the New Media art.
Most of his works relate to issues of social, cultural or personal identity. One of his seminal works is titled On The Table.