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Terayama: Performance

Farewell to the Ark

I am a declared opponent of confining art to one genre, Terayama once said. A great example of this was his acclaimed happening Nokku (Stuk puk, 1975), a series of performances that took place in various parts of Tokyo. A theater in which there are no actors and a theater where everyone is an actor, a theater without a theater building and a theater where every place is a theatrical space, a theater without spectators and a theater where everyone plays the role of spectator, street theater, theater by post and telephone, theater in hidden rooms and, finally, theater that crosses the threshold into homes. The audience will experience something like this during special live screenings of the Japanese artist’s two best-known short films, Laura and Der Prozess, where the boundary between truth and fiction is completely blurred. And so we meet in the cinema again, this time without knowing what’s going to happen—someone next to us might suddenly put their hand on our knee or unexpectedly pop out of the screen, and sometimes we’ll have to grab a hammer and take matters into our own hands. Henriku Morisaki-Terayama, a former Tenjō Sajiki actor and the artist’s step-brother and heir to his artistic estate, will be our special guest.

Nikodem Karolak

Shūji Terayama

(1935-1983), one of the most prominent avant-garde reformers of Japanese cinema and theater. He became an unrivaled intellectual, nonconformist and unyielding fanatic, as well as an artist who was deemed scandalous and subversive, an enfant terrible, who managed to revise his native tradition. Famous internationally primarily as the founder of the legendary alternative Tenjō Sajiki theater, he directed a series of films with strong autobiographical themes, including a counter-cultural manifesto based on the collage method Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets, or Death in the Country, which critics compared and contrasted to Federico Fellini's  Eight and a Half, and near the end of his life to create his own version of Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in Farewell to the Ark, where Macondo culture permeates Japanese myths and beliefs. As a total artist, Terayama not only mixed different genres and conventions, but combined the cinema with theater, destroying the "fourth wall" between the viewer and the artist.

Selected filmography

1971 Rzućmy książki, wyjdźmy na ulice! / Sho o suteyo machi e deyō / Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets

1974 Wiejska ciuciubabka / Den'en ni shisu / Pastoral: To Die in the Country (aka Pastoral Hide and Seek)

1977 Bokser / Bokusā / Boxer

1981 Owoce namiętności / Shanhai Ijin Shōkan / Fruits of Passion

1984 Żegnaj, Arko! / Saraba hakobune / Farewell to the Ark