In his recent series, ‘Seasons of Passion/A Requiem: Chapter 1’, Yasumasa Morimura recreates memorable postwar incidents as reported through press photography. As is typical of his work, he plays all the roles in each restaged event. The series overall includes incidents which were widely published in the east and west including: the 1960 assassination of Japan Socialist Party chairman Inejiro Asanuma by Otoya Yamaguchi; the 1963 shooting of John F Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby; the 1968 execution of a Vietcong suspect by General Loan; and the final public speech by Yukio Mishima at the Tokyo Self Defence Force headquarters in 1970.
Morimura has made black & white large-scale photographs of each event (except that of Mishima’s speech) and unlike much of his previous work the characters are men. Morimura has determined that the 20th century was a century of action, conflict and destruction, a world of blood, sweat and collisions of the flesh unlike today’s virtual realties.
In the DVD ‘Seasons of Passion/A Requiem: Mishima’ 2006, Morimura/Mishima delivers an impassioned speech, one based on the writer’s pre-suicide diatribe from 1970. Instead of confronting Japanese society as the author did, Morimura attacks the art world, protesting that art today is ‘dancing to the tune of the mass media… drunk on global strategies and commercialism and selling itself out…’ He comments that in Japanese society there is a general feeling that if you’re making money, then that’s good enough. Standing on the balcony of the Osaka Self Defense Force headquarters (Mishima died in Tokyo and for Morimura access to the Tokyo site proved too difficult to arrange) Morimura harangues a non-existent audience. Dressed in a recreation of Mishima’s elaborate costume, with a banner fluttering behind him, the image periodically freezes so that the viewer can examine the aggressive appearance of the artist more closely. For all of Mishima’s passion no one listened, just as here, no one listens to Morimura.
The work is both humorous and thought provoking, not least because Morimura is cheeky enough to equate the artist’s struggle against globalism and capitalism with that of a nationalist writer rebelling against Japan’s pacificist constitution.
Morimura reminds us that while history is public memory, his recollections and re-creations are personal. This interconnection equates with his idea of beauty - the clash of two things. It is the stirring of a commotion within that stimulates expression. ‘Season of Passion/A Requiem: Chapter 1’ 2006 is the first in a planned series of three bodies of work. After focusing on memorable incidents from the 1960s, Morimura intends to revisit and re-enact significant moments from the earlier period, the end of World War II and the Occupation of Japan.
DVD, colour, sound, 07:47 min; Lambda print inside wooden (paulownia) box
38.0 x 31.0 x 4.5 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2007
Not on display
© Yasumasa Morimura