IKLECTIK [off-site] presents,
NUMBERS MATTER 121 – Episodes 2&3
Please support the artists! If you can donate, please do it at the following link: https://buytickets.at/iklectik/512265
2-1 Hiromi Miyakita: Nutu/Omelette (14′ 03″) from Kyotango
2-2 Chiharu MK + Micelle: Re:vive (10′ 20″) from Sapporo
2-3 Akio Suzuki: Bakkutsu (莫窟) (13′ 05″) from Kyotango
3-1 Wei Wei aka VAVABOND: 懐中電灯/Lamp In Arms (11′ 44″) from Beijing
3-2 Chunyang Yao – Her/e (15′ 22″) from Guangzhou
Episodes 2 and 3 of Numbers Matter 121 present three artists from Japan and two artists from mainland China. Japan, you’ll recall from Episode 1, a country with a population of over 124.2 million, is ranked at 121 in the Gender Inequality Index (GII) published by Human Development Reports 2020. Japanese women got the vote in 1946 – earlier than China (1949), Liechtenstein (1984) and Switzerland (1993). China is ranked at 106 – two steps above South Korea at 108. Also related to the gender issue, the Chinese government introduced its two children policy instead of one in 2016, Both Chinese musicians in this programme have two children.
Meanwhile, 2021 in the UK is Brexit year one, pandemic year two and also the year of the national census. Indeed the 2021 census form raises plenty of reasons to talk about identity, given the section focussing on national identity, ethnic group, language and religion: “Your national identity could be the country or countries where you feel you belong or think of as home. It is not dependent on your ethnic group or citizenship”.
After winning the Nobel prize in 2017, the Nagasaki born ethnically Japanese British writer Kazuo Ishiguro commented: “I’ve always said throughout my career that although I’ve grown up in this country and I’m educated in this country, that a large part of my way of looking at the world, my artistic approach, is Japanese, because I was brought up by Japanese parents, speaking in Japanese […] I have always looked at the world through my parents’ eyes”.
The Pyongyang born Japanese sound artist Akio Suzuki’s contribution to Numbers Matter 121 is a film of him playing his musical percussion invention, the Analapos, at Bakkokutsu, his self-built lakeside house in Kyotango in North Kyoto prefecture of Honshu. Because it stood empty for a long period, the building is presently almost ruined! Named after his house, “Bakkutsu” was partly inspired by his longing for the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, China. It is also Akio’s homage to three UK free music pioneers: Hugh Davies (23 April 1943 – 1 January 2005), who was the first musician from the scene to recognise his work, when Akio participated in 1982’s Company Week, organised by Derek Bailey (29 January 1930 – 25 December 2005); and John Russell (19 December 1954 – 19 January 2021), who invited Akio to Fete Quaqua 2010 (see Helen Petts’ film of Akio Suzuki and John Russell’s performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X7rkmNMnKk).
Dancer Hiromi Miyakita was in Austria with her husband Akio Suzuki when the new Corona virus started spreading around Europe last year, forcing them to return to Japan earlier than they had planned. Surrounded by the natural beauty around their home in the remote region of Tango Peninsula, she developed her new dance “Nu Tu”, performed to her own simultaneously self-played rhythm on stones found on a local beach.
Miyakita received a BFA in dance at the University of Illinois in America. After performing and choreographing for the stage, she began to explore the possibilities of improvised performance and visual art. Her dance practice is based on the idea that any movement, even simple ones like standing, walking, or sitting, can all become dance; her choreography is also inspired by the objects and phenomena surrounding us. Miyakita moved to Kyōtango in 2012. Today, she creates site-specific performances in a variety of spaces including museums, railroads, parks, streets, and gardens.
Chiharu MK & Micelle
Chiharu MK studied electronic acoustic music at INA/GRM and Francois Bayle’s sound diffusion system Acousmonium at MOTUS FUTURA in France. She returned to work in her hometown Sapporo, capital of Japan’s northernmost main island Hokkaido. She conceived and directed “Re:vive”, a dance/music work performed by Chiaki Kouno & Hiro Sakurai’s contemporary dance unit Micelle at Moerenuma Park, the Sapporo City public space designed by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.
Inspired by Hokkaido’s hard winters, “Re:vive” is the first part of Chiharu MK’s new composition “「Chain」”. Micelle’s “contact improvisation” dance style was influenced by Aikido, the Japanese martial art based on the communication between two or more moving bodies in physical contact. Once the two dancers tested negative for Covid-19, they saw their participation in “Re;vive” as a challenge how to dance under strict Covid-19 social distancing restrictions, asking: “What is the meaning of communicating through body?”
The People’s Republic of China is the world’s most populous country. It recognises 55 different ethnic minority groups within its territory, including the Naxi, whose population is estimated at over 300,000 people. Born in Lijiang in Yunnan Province, Chunyang Yao is a composer, vocalist and electronic improviser of Naxi descent. After graduating from the Music Conservatory of Shanghai with a Master’s in Theory and Composition, she is now based in Guangzhou. In 2014, she launched her solo electronic music and voice performance project, which combines her native Naxi language, field recording and synthesizers, to stage improvised performances in the vein of music concrète, noise and drone.
Wei Wei aka VAVABOND
Wei Wei aka VAVABOND is a laptop noise/improvisation musician based in Beijing, who processes “meaningless and fragmented sounds in a nonlinear-time approach”. She is also a member of the psychedelic noise group Vagus Nerve and the free improvising environmental sound duo Mind Fiber. Wei Wei also works as an English translator – she co-translated the Chinese edition of Derek Bailey’s book “Improvisation: Its Nature And Practice In Music”.
In 2019, Wei Wei and Yao participated in the artist residency programme Art With/Out Small Children in the small town of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, Japan. Curated by Japanese sound designer Yasuhiro Morinaga and Lijiang Studio’s American director Jay Brown, Art With/Out Small Children’s theme was: “How do we deal with certain inescapable dynamics, such as countenancing a history of cultural erasure, tourist development, the cosmologies of others, or the ontologies of places?”
Artists’ websites in alphabetical order
Wei Wei aka VAVABOND:
“There are more and more discussions about women’s rights and equality on social media in China, more and more Chinese women are aware that this is a topic about personal rights and equality, but also more and more men see it as a threat to them, but of course more men are not aware of it yet. In a country where it’s still difficult to talk about individual equality and rights, it’s certainly more difficult to talk about women’s equality. But I think it’s still a struggle that each of us (man and woman) needs to engage in: as equals, as people with rights, as basic living beings. Women need to make their voices heard and need to give themselves a new definition. We can begin from some simple changes: first and foremost, realise that we as women can say no to many things (marriage, housework, childbirth, sexual harassment…); to make voice for others and for ourselves when injustice is met; to be equal and independent individuals with the counterpart in family and love relationships; and most importantly, to do what we enjoy and be ourselves. But the current situation in China is that in many poor and rural areas, women don’t have the ability or opportunity to make such choice. And sadly, by nature, I don’t think men are able to empathise with women or provide the help they actually need. So back to the end, I think it’s up to each and every one of us women to take an active part in this fight to make things better.”
Keiko Yoshida (ZAPT) March 2021
Curator Keiko Yoshida’s notes for NUMBERS MATTER 121
While researching texts for AGF’s 2015 CD A Deep Mysterious Tone I developed a profound interest in women’s history in Japan. AGF and I first met and begain talking about her project while she was taking part in my hometown Sapporo’s International Arts Festival in 2014. For the album she compiled and set to music Japanese writings and poems from the ninth century to the present day, and commissioned the female electronic musicians Ryoko Akama (UK), Kyoka (Germany), Tujiko Noriko (France) and Yu Kawabata to read her selections. She had met them at European festivals, and as she got to know them she learnt these female electronic musicians are not treated very well when they’re back home in Japan.
Indeed NUMBERS MATTER 121 took seed in these discussions on women and Japan with AGF. In some ways it’s also a sequel to “Coding in GE”, the 2018 Iklectik festival offering a platform to female electronic musicians, for which we got funding from Sasakawa Foundation UK, and in which Otaco, Mayuko Hino and AGF participated.
Another question addressed in NUMBERS MATTER 121 is the subject of decentralisation. I consciously asked musicians from outside Tokyo to participate in this project.
Currently working on a photo story book about 1980s London and Berlin.
Project produced by IKLECTIK