Norio Imai Retrospective ー TIME IN SQUARE

2016.03.26 [sat] - 04.23 [sat] 11:00-19:00 (Saturdays 11:00 -17:00) Closed on Sundays, Mondays and National holidays.

Initiating the use of photography, video and film as new media in his work in the 1970s, Norio Imai gradually shifted the central theme of his art to “time” expression. Imai brought out the material properties of the media then available – photographic film, with its characteristic of being verifiable only after processing, glass cathode-ray tubes with their mirror-image effects, and open-reel videotape, which acts as a “measuring tape of time” – and physically imposed himself, the artist, into their systems. Producing a steady flow of performances, installations and image-media works with increasingly developed layerings of imagery, he attempted to visualize time. At the exhibitions “Re: play 1972/2015”, which opened at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in fall 2015, and “Performing for the Camera”, on this February at London’s Tate Modern, works created in the photography and video/film media of the time are on display, and the innovativeness of the methods of expression and themes of creation developed by Imai are now being re-examined. Beginning in 1964 with “Testimony of a 17-Year-Old”, his groundbreaking debut solo exhibition, Imai joined the avant-garde art group Gutai Art Association as its youngest member. He contributed works to the group’s “Gutai Exhibitions” and participated actively in the frequently held “IndОpendant” exhibitions and in open-submission shows as well. In the 1960s, at the beginning of his creative career, Imai’s “white” canvas pieces with irregular surfaces were pioneering expressions that transcended the borders between painting and relief and sculpture, and in the 1970s, his scope expanded even further, to photography, video and film. This exhibition will be the third installment of Norio Imai’s retrospective exhibitions, following 2012’s “Norio Imai Retrospective - From 17 to 22 Years Old” and 2014’s “Norio Imai Retrospective: Reflection and Projection”.

[ Exhibition highlights ]
The title work, TIME IN SQUARE (1984/2016), is a repeat performance and redisplayed related installation, and as such, the open-reel videotape and video player are indispensable components. The equipment needed for this event has not been manufactured for many years. Fortunately, we were able to obtain it, thereby making it possible to present this repeat performance and display. In the public performance to be carried out on the opening day of the exhibition, Imai will wind videotape around human-sized foliage trees arranged in a four-by-four-meter square.
--- The artist takes the videotape in his hands just after it is recorded and goes about winding it around the trees. On the video, the artist’s actions just before this are recorded with a momentary time lag, with the videotape spewing out without being taken up onto a reel, and the artist holding it in his hands and winding it around the trees. This sequence of action and recording progresses, one
nesting inside the other, until at last a “square” appears, formed by the tape wound around the trees arranged in a square.
After the performance is finished, the piece will be displayed as an installation work. This is one of the main works of “time” expression that Imai has attempted.

[ Main works to be exhibited (subject to change) ]
One installation, one video, twenty-four photographs, five flat surface works and one sculpture: thirty-two works in total.

TIME IN SQUARE (1984/2016) ― A repeat performance (re-creation) of the work on the first day of the exhibition.

Video and photography:
Six-Eight Time (1981) ― A performance walking around in a completely dark dome space and photographing/videotaping while flashing a strobe at
the viewers. Video and photographs will be on display.

Flat surface works:
Sketching by Video (1974) ― Video was projected while sketching with ink on tracing paper, making reproductions every fifteen seconds and
repeating seven times. Consists of seven sheets of blueprint and one sheet of tracing paper.

Related events

  • 03.26 [sat] 15:00〜15:20
  • 03.26 [sat] 15:30〜17:00
  • 04.16 [sat] 15:00〜17:00
    Video Screening and Talk
    Video Screening: 3:00 pm – 3:15 pm
    Talk: 3:15 pm – 5:00 pm / Norio Imai and Kenjin Miwa (Chief Curator of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo)


Norio Imai