Japan as depicted by Czech photographer during 1997 and 2015
Daniel Sperl studied with the documentary photographer Jindřich Štreit, who traveled the world making photographs on the themes of the presence and beauty of ordinary, simple people. It is now twenty years since Štreit spent several months in Gunma prefecture, in what was then the village of Akagi photographing life in a Japanese farming community. Now his disciple Sperl has conducted a project photographing the daily routine of people not only in Gunma, but also in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. The photo exhibition commanded considerable attention, with over 150 people attending the opening. All the works present in black and white. Visitors were heard to remark, “These are not sightseeing photos, they showed me a glimpse of the truth of ordinary lives,” and “I thought they were of a far-away country, but oddly there is a familiarity stirring from these photos.” It was an exhibition reminding us, through their daily lives, of what people have in common, rather than their cultural differences.
Long-awaited debut solo show in Europe by up-and-coming calligrapher
After exhibiting a distinctive talent at an early age, Shoko Kanazawa has, since her debut in 2005, developed an active career visiting all parts of Japan for speaking opportunities, solo exhibitions and calligraphy performances. Critical acclaim abroad as well as at home of her artistry made 2015 an active year for her overseas, including a solo show in New York City and her long-awaited European solo show at Plzeň 2015. She has truly matured into an artist of global stature. Organized by Robin Shōen Heřman and Ivo Hucl, this exhibition was the product of their enthusiasm pursued in elaborate preparations and repeated consultation. Both Kanazawa and her mother, teacher and supporter Yasuko Kanazawa attended the opening, offering a public demonstration and talk. Her exhibition and appearance were well received as she stirred the many viewers not only with the artistry of her calligraphy, but also her personality and the strength of her writing that unfolds from her pellucid heart. Kanazawa's work etched itself cleanly into the memories of the many viewers present.
Karen LaMonte exhibition "Ceramic and glass plastic of kimono"
Date: 10 Sep. - 11 Oct. 2015 Venue: The Museum of West Bohemia in Pilsen - 1st floor
Performance by Czech-based Japanese artist Noriyuki Sawa
“Gauche the Cellist” is a joint production by the Czech-based puppetry artist Noriyuki Sawa and the JT Biohistory Research Hall in Osaka. Jakub Hora, director of the Alfa Puppet Theatre in Plzeň, encountered the work at the Iida Puppet Festival in 2014, which then led to its performance at European Capital of Culture Plzeň. Interweaving cello and piano playing, puppetry, speech, paper cutouts and images of sand pictures, the work was produced to mark the 20th anniversary of the JT Bioihistory Research Hall. Replete with statements by Sawa touching on the mission of the Biohistory Research Hall to lend an ear to the stories of the smallest creatures and “live life as part of Nature” and the worldview of Kenji Miyazawa depicting how Gauche grows through his involvement with animals, the performance proved tremendously moving for adults as well as children.
Artists-in-residence produce work while blending into local communities: Euro-Japan network of cooperation grows
The Open AiR artist-in-residence (AiR) program launched on the occasion of European Capital of Culture Plzeň 2015. In such a program the artist invited takes up residence in a given area for a given period of time and there produces work or conducts research on the region. AiR programs currently operate at institutions both large and small in many countries around the world, and while each is distinctive in its own way, together they are constructing art networks transcending national borders. Open AiR began collaborating with Youkobo Art Space of Tokyo in 2014, and the two now conduct an artist exchange program. This year the invitation went to Soichiro Mihara, who spent three months producing work in his residency. Pursuing the further development of a project he has been at work on since 2001 on the themes of art, nature and technology, the work reflecting the peculiarly Czech discoveries he made there resonated strongly among local viewers in how it leads to opportunities to revisit the environment in which one finds oneself.
Young artists representing the next generation gather from around the world
This international summer school of art is held annually by the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia. Since 2005 ArtCamp has drawn participants from inside and outside the Czech Republic for study and creation in three weeks of wide-ranging art courses. Since 2013 Youkobo Art Space and Japanese fine arts universities have worked together to arrange the participation of sixteen artists in ArtCamp until today. The experience of producing art while taking courses in English, interacting with classmates from many different countries and benefiting from the stimulation of a global environment is a valuable opportunity for these ambitious young artists pursuing professional careers in the arts. This year saw Japanese participation extend beyond students to interns and an instructor in classical Japanese painting. The program is to repeat in 2016 and is sure to grow in breadth and substance with the European Capital of Culture.
Teacher: Kumi Machida (ink painting) 5 students of art universities in Japan Maya Arata (Graduate school of Education, Saitama University, Saitama) Wang Muyi (Graduate school of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, Tokyo) Toshiko Chiba (Graduate school of Fine Arts, Tokyo Zokei University, Tokyo) Eri Yagi (Undergraduate student, Musashino Art University, Tokyo) Moe Syono (Undergraduate student, Joshibi University of Art and Design, Tokyo)
The world of digital art pioneer Ryoji Ikeda
Paris-based Ryoji Ikeda is known for his sensory art works employing multiple logical and mathematical approaches. His installations combining noise, pulse and video are acclaimed around the world for their creativity. As a highlight project of Plzeň 2015 Ikeda created an original work produced for the new theater Black Box. Partly due to this release of his latest work, over 2,000 people visited from inside the Czech Republic and all over Europe to catch a glimpse of it, and numerous media outlets provided coverage. To prepare the work, Ikeda visited Plzeň and held discussions with his team. This dialog with an artist one might sometimes term philosophical was a major stimulus for the local production team.
Kobo Abe's signature work The Woman in the Dunes is one of the great classics of modern Japanese literature. It has been translated into 20 languages, including Czech, and acclaimed overseas as well. Depicting symbolically the ordinariness of civil society and the truth and essence of the life force of human beings in it within a worldview like the boundary between reality and unreality, the novel has been compared with Kafka's and enjoys a broad readership in the Czech Republic. Lifting ideas from Abe's novel, Nanohach, a dance company based in the Czech Republic since its formation in 2004, took up the challenge of dance transcending the different Czech and Japanese cultures. Playing an outdoor venue that made the most of the uncanny space of an old fortress on a hill, Nanohach's dance mesmerized a large audience with its overlays of the supple and the subtle.
13 Jun. 2015
The English Park of Kozel Chateau
Dance company NANOHACH (CZ) Ley Švejdová (Choreographer / CZ)
"The Woman in the Dunes" (Suna no Onna)
Circle of contemporary dance linking Japan, Slovakia and Czech Republic
The dance form butoh formed in Japan in the 1960s around Tatsumi Hijikata and has now established itself as one of our time's leading performing arts. Based in Slovenia, butoh dancer Ryuzo Fukuhara teaches at university and is also active in the vanguard of dance, taking part in the 2012 European Capitals of Culture Maribor and Guimarães, in Slovenia and Portugal respectively. In response to the request of local dancers, in Plzeň Fukuhara also offered a special workshop. Performed under a 250-year-old oak on an outdoor stage overlooking a lake, Fukuhara's “Touch of Life” lodged firmly in many memories as a piece both mysterious and brimming with the dynamism of life. As it happens, Fukuhara has deep connections with Plzeň: He has performed there previously and has many fans in the city who look forward to further workshops and performances in future.
20, 21 Jun. 2015
The English Park of the Kozel Chateau (20 Jun.), DEPO2015 (21 Jun.)
"A Touch of Life"
Ryuzo Fukuhara - The Seeds of Dance A workshop of butoh basics
Date: 22-26 Jun. 2015 Venue: St. Anne's Chapel (Nectiny)
Shogi spreads among chess cultures of Europe
A festival of shogi, the most popular Japanese board game, and other board games with Japanese themes by the Kavenu Club and Goada Association. Shogi is a strategy game similar to chess but more interesting and more aggressive. The main aim of the game is to put captured stones back on the
board, creating situations rich in strategy and placing shogi among the best board games in the world. The game of shogi is more than 1,300 years old. It was formerly used as a “logic exercise” mostly for generals and emperors – it is not an accident that the words “shogi” and “shogun” start with the same character. The name “shogi” can be translated as “the game of generals”.
Thanks to a new version with indicating arrows removing the primary barrier in understanding Japanese symbols, the game of shogi is becoming popular in the Czech Republic. An open workshop for all age groups led by the experienced tutors Filip Marek and Pavlina Smržova will teach participants the rules of the game in five minutes. They have been running shogi in the Czech Republic for four years and also founded the Czech Association of Shogi. Festival participants will learn about other board games inspired by Japan in the collection and archive of the Kavenu Club and the Goada Association. Kavenu is the most significant club of board games in Pilsen, with a shop and rental service offering more than 1,000 board games for playing or renting. Club members are happy to help with choosing a suitable game. Goada is a civic association which organises educational events with board games and one of the biggest festivals of board games in West Bohemia – Goliath and David. It co-organises competitions in board games and many supporting activities for children and families.
Besides shogi, people from all age groups can play almost twenty other games with Japanese themes. Many will also be for sale.
5-7 Jun. 2015
Mestanska Beseda - Social Hall
Lecturer of Workshop:
Filip Marek, Pavlina Smrzova (Czech Shogi Association)
Madoka Kitao, Manabu Terao (International Shogi Popularization Society), Czech Shogi Association