PIZZA TIME IMAI Norio
Looking at how IMAI’s works being screened at this festival were originally presented – EN (CIRCLE) was screened at the Sogetsu Experimental Film Festival, FLOOR was a television program, JOINTED FILM+SEVERED FILM/ JOINTED FILM (originally exhibited as two separate works) and ON AIR were shown at art museums, and PIZZA TIME and TIME IN SQUARE were exhibited at galleries – the sites of their screenings and exhibitions were diverse, and the locus of IMAI’s activities was not limited to a certain kind of venue (moreover, IMAI also engaged in sculpture, photography, and printmaking).
Of course, it is possible to point out commonalities underlying these diverse forms of expression. For example, in IMAI’s works two-way transitions take place between “material” and “image” or “reality” and “illusion,” mediated by the “acts” of the artist. A typical example of this is PIZZA TIME, in which an attempt is made to reconstruct an actual pizza out of photographs. Another example is the tense relationship between image and material in EN (CIRCLE), in which holes are punched in each frame of black film, and in SEVERED FILM / JOINTED FILM, in which discarded film from a TV station is spread out on the floor and randomly projected as slides or with a projector. Then there are TIME IN SQUARE and ON AIR, works in which the open-reel tape used in record keeping is simultaneously used as raw physical material for the acts of packing up a monitor and demarcating space. In FLOOR, too, a film in which the camera is pointed at the floor and the filmmaker walks around inside a gallery looking only through the viewfinder, what we perceive in the sometimes out of focus images of a floor appearing on the screen is the existence of the “body = material” of IMAI, the person holding the camera.
What is perhaps most important to note here, however, is that IMAI’s activities in diverse domains were not an expression of strong opposition to categorization of the kind often seen in the 1960s and 1970s, and the common thread of two-way transitions between material and image was not an indication that he harbored a desire for the integration of genres. The image of someone walking against the tide and trying to abolish genres and categories does not fit IMAI. Instead, through his acute sense of the everyday world and skillful clarity, in every instance he skillfully rode the currents of wherever he had placed himself, casually, aloofly making his way forward.
MIWA Kenjin (Senior researcher, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)
EN (CIRCLE) IMAI Norio / 16mm / 3min. / 1967
FLOOR IMAI Norio / 16mm / 3min. / 1972
JOINTED FILM+SEVERED FILM/JOINTED FILM IMAI Norio / 16mm + slide / 20min. / 1973
ON AIR IMAI Norio / video / 21min. / 1980
PIZZA TIME IMAI Norio / video / 10min. / 1983
TIME IN SQUARE IMAI Norio / video / 9min. / 1984
Born in Osaka in 1946. Studied under Jiro YOSHIHARA from the time he was a student at Osaka City Kogei High School, joined the Gutai Art Association the year after his first solo exhibition, “Testimony of a 17-Year-Old.” After the dissolution of “Gutai” (1972), continued to pursue diverse forms of expression that defied genre classification, presenting many works at art exhibitions both in Japan and overseas. Began making photographic and video works in earnest in the 1970s. Recent screenings include “Gutai: Splendid Playground” (2013, EN) and the 46th Rotterdam International Film Festival (2017, six works).