第8回大会報告 小泉明郎パフォーマンス&アーティスト・トーク


June 30, 2013, 10:00-12:00
Room AV-B, Bldg. 3, Block 1, Senriyama Campus, Kansai University

Meiro Koizumi
Performance "Autopsychobabble #4"
Artist Talk (Interviewer : Junji Hori)


Anger, frustration, claustrophobia, those three words sum up my experience of Koizumi Meiro performance.

As Koizumi explains, “I treated Hara, also known as “Eternal Virgin”, as someone who is trapped in men's fantasy. I tried to trap the audience in the same space; the space where Hara was trapped; the space where the men's fantasy creates monstrous image of “The Eternal Virgin” through repression and symbolic violence.” In thirty minutes, Koizumi explored the limits of an athletic masculine and homosocial practice of the image as machinic feminine other, without offering any alternative but to break his pen. In that respect the whole performance was a failure. Koizumi could not penetrate the image of Setsuko Hara, he could not possess her nor find a proper place from which to control her. Yet, failure was planned: the desk used by Koizumi was carefully protected by a woodboard. The performance was planned, closed on itself, and the audience indeed trapped. And this programmed failure to contain the machinic feminine mediation of the image allows me to qualify this performance as a queer if modernist practice of the image.

The setting of the performance combined three spaces, the atelier of the artist, the screen, and the school whiteboard, three screens for drawing, projecting, and exposing. Those three screens created a space in which the artist attempted to ground his position in the image, to find his proper place, while occupying the whole space of performance by his voice and the sound of the pen scratching the white paper.

The installation became a machinic apparatus, oriented by two loop structures, the mechanical repetition of the image of Hara Satsuko's scene from Ozu's 1951 Early Summer, and the organic repetition by the artist of Hara's words, “Do you really think of me like that?”. Divorced from the digital image, sound became a weapon to occupy the space of mediation in the multiple layering of the screen, exploring possible positions for the artist now trapped in a closed system. Yet this harnessing of the artist to the machine (he literally taped a mic to his finger) was in no way a masochist attitude. Deleuze defines masochism by the potential for changing structures. Koizumi's performances do not change structures, they are rather a sadistic capture of the image in a closed juridical system without exit. In that respect, his recent interest in fascism makes complete sense and should lead him into very interesting experiments.

In this heavy atmosphere generated by an increasingly frustrated male, I became myself increasingly frustrated if not angry. First I could not help but be shocked by the complete objectification of the woman body, an objectification that did not allow for any real engagement with the image, yet a series of attempts. I know that women in the audience had conflicting and varied reactions to this whole performance, and that some were ready to leave half-way through, which I almost did. Yet Hara Setsuko defies complete capture.

Second, and this is where I felt directly challenged, while Koizumi's performance could only end in failure given the complete closeness of his system, this is what allowed him to explore a complete cartography of modernist practices of the image and its aporia. As such, it was a perfect choice for concluding this conference on the post-medium, and its main limit in my view, its reliance on a modernist homosocial framework. In that respect, if we understand Koizumi's performance as a remapping of the cinematic image and its feminine machinic mediation, it makes perfect sense that he chose to use a pencil. At the end of his life, Étienne Jules-Marey championed the hand-drawn image over his chronophotography, and Koizumi's performance precisely relies on this tension between the analog and the digital in the cinematic image. And as Linda Williams famously argued, Eadweard Muybridge's own chronophotography was an attempt at binding the feminine image into a homosocial framework. Nothing new then in Koizumi's practice but the athletism of this fast-paced exploration of the modernist cinematic image, while remaining stuck in the same aporia.

The sequence of drawings exposed on the whiteboard by the master to the students brilliantly articulates the high points of this cartography. In the first drawing, Koizumi attempted to carefully draw the shape of Hara's body while the line shows an evident desire to escape the mold and destroy it. In the following drawings, Koizumi tries to locate himself around the body of Hara reduced to its main sexual attributes, her hair, mouth and breasts, turning around her, retreating in her back, or disappearing as if completely overwhelmed by liquid erections from her mouth and breasts. Two (?) drawings were torn to shreds, while the last decent one was reduced to a frame around Hara's image, drawn in a circling motion that unsurprisingly ended up in a black hole torn to shreds. No wonder, and I ended up wondering what was the point of all this. An athletic performance, well crafted, an admirable and self-conscious if somewhat forced mapping of the modernist image, and the impossibility of engaging with the feminine machinic mediation — a mapping that can never turn into a cartography of love.

Christophe Thouny (The University of Tokyo)