[Still from Dwelling by Hiraki Sawa, courtesy of James Cohan Gallery]

On the 18th February h 19.15 E*Cinema becomes expat cinema as we present experimental films and animations from the 1960s up to the present by Japanese filmmakers who are based abroad. Bring together films from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Montreal, London and Amsterdam, the programme questions the validity of the concept of a national cinema in the context of those who no longer call their country their only home.

Ranging from the poetic to the abrasive, the films resonate with one another along themes of travel and discovery as well as an aesthetic preoccupation with the frame. With films directed by Kenji Kanesaka, Takahiko Iimura, Shinkichi Tajiri, Hiraki Sawa, Tomonari Nishikawa, Daïchi Saïto and one soundtracked by Yoko Ono, the programme will include a bicycle-cinema presentation by Amsterdam’s Pirate Cinema, an expanded cinema performance and an introduction by its curator Julian Ross.

At h 19.15 EYE will screen:

Dwelling (Hiraki Sawa, 2002, B&W, 9 min, sound, digital)

Bringing together the private interiors of an apartment room and the expansion of space covered by flight, London-based animator Hiraki Sawa’s stop-motion animation Dwelling engages with the intimacy of journey and travel. Courtesy of Alexander Fang, Philip Tan and Jessica Lin Cox of James Cohan Gallery and Hiraki Sawa.


[Still from Dwelling, courtesy of James Cohan Gallery]

Super Up! (Kenji Kanesaka, 1966, Colour, 13 min, sound, original 16mm/digital)

Shot in Chicago, Super Up! is a film with exuberant energy that playfully criticises consumer culture and marginalization based on race and class. Made during the director’s stay in Chicago 1965-66, the aimless run around the city echoes Kanesaka’s own sense of exploration in the city. Courtesy Anne Wells, Nancy Watrous and Travis Werlen of Chicago Film Archive and producer Marv Gold.


[Still from Super Up!, courtesy of Chicago Film Archive]

Bicycles (Shinkichi Tajiri, 1960, B&W, 8min, sound, original 8mm/35mm)

Struck by the culture of cycling in Amsterdam, sculptor and filmmaker Shinkichi Tajiri made an experimental documentary on bicycles that daily flood the streets of the city. An 19-minute silent version of Bicycles will be on a loop next to the box office at EYE on h. 14.00-19.15 as part of the bicycle-cinema installation by Amsterdam-based group Pirate Cinema. Courtesy of Ryu & Giotta Tajiri of Shinkichi Tajiri Estate with thanks to Simona Monizza of EYE and Ehsan Fardjadniya of Pirate Cinema. Film from EYE Collection.



[Still from Bicycle, from Filmbank website]

Aos (Yoji Kuri, 1964, B&W, sound, 35mm)

A peculiar animation of esoteric taste, Aos received the Grand Prize at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. Screened at the Nederlands Filmmuseum in August 1968, the film was soundtracked by artist Yoko Ono. Courtesy of Yoji Kuri with thanks to Simona Monizza of EYE. Film from the EYE Collection.



[Film program of Yoji Kuri season at Nederlands Filmmuseum December 1972]

Airliner (Hiraki Sawa, 2003, B&W, 3min, sound, digital)

An echo of his previous film, Airliner sees planes take flight from the pages of a book –– a diary or a novel. As the pages are flipped we are reminded of the illusion of motion produced by flipbooks that foreshadowed the arrival of cinema. Courtesy of Alexander Fang, Philip Tan and Jessica Lin Cox of James Cohan Gallery and Hiraki Sawa.



[Still from Airliner, courtesy of James Cohan Gallery]

Market Street (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2005, B&W, 5min, silent, 16mm)

Visual matches between frames are impeccably composed in Tomonari Nishikawa’s Market Street, where a frenetic visual rhythm provides us with a sketch of the artist’s discoveries strolling on location down Market Street. Commissioned by Exploratorium and San Francisco Arts Commission for the outdoor screening event, A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005: An Outdoor Centennial Celebration. Courtesy of Tomonari Nishikawa. Film on loan from Light Cone.

See Trip Down Market Street (1905)

Market Street_05 (2)


[Still from Market Street, courtesy of Tomonari Nishikawa]

Chiasmus (Daïchi Saïto, 2003, B&W, 8min, sound, 16mm)

Daïchi Saïto plays with the limitation and potential of the cinema screen in Chiasmus, where the angular rhythms composed with extreme close-ups of flesh force the body in and out of the frame. Courtesy of Daïchi Saïto. Film on loan from Light Cone.




[Still from Chiasmus, courtesy of Daïchi Saïto]

Iro/Colour (Takahiko Iimura, 1962-63, Colour, 9min, sound, original 8mm/digital)

Documenting the result of paint and oil dripped into water, Iro/Colour was an abstract film with a soundtrack by Yasunao Tone of Fluxus and Japan’s first improvised music collective Group Ongaku. First performed on 5 December 1963, Screen Play was a collaboration with Jiro Takamatsu, a founding member of Hi Red Center, and involved a projection of Iro/Colour onto the artist who sat faced away from the audience and projection. During the performance, Iimura slowly cut Takamatsu’s jacket in the shape of the projection to expose the skin of his back to the projection of the film. Courtesy of Takahiko Iimura. Film on loan from artist’s private collection.

Screen Play re-performed by Pirate Cinema with kind permission of Takahiko Iimura.

IRO (2)

Screenplay-2012-reperformance-still (2)




[Top: still from Iro/Colour (1962-63)/Middle: Screen Play (1963/2012) at Place M Gallery, Shinjuku / Bottom: Film program at Nederlands Filmmuseum March 1969. Courtesy of Takahiko Iimura]

Iimura’s essay ‘Two-Way Peep Window’ (1963) that was published on the occasion of his first performance [English] can be read online.

An essay on Iimura’s “film performances” by Julian Ross, the curator of this programme, can be read on MoMA’s online resource post.


Hiraki Sawa

Born in Japan, Hiraki Sawa currently lives and works in London. Since 2002, he has exhibited extensively, including solo exhibitions at the Chisenhale Gallery (London) and James Cohan Gallery (New York). Sawa has also participated in a number of group exhibitions and international art festivals including the Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Asian-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art and Lyon Biennial. He won the East International Award in 2002, the Decibel Award for Artists in 2006 and in 2011 he was awarded the Gotoh Memorial Prize.



Kenji Kanesaka

Kenji Kanesaka was a photographer, translator, writer, filmmaker and a founding member of the Film Independents, Newsreel Japan and Japan Filmmakers’ Co-op. Travelling to the United States as a participant of the Harvard University International Seminars in 1961, Kanesaka brought back the notion of ‘underground cinema’ and ‘psychedelic culture’ to Japan from his many visits to the country. Becoming a conduit of intercultural communication between the Japan and the U.S., Kanesaka put together the programme ‘Underground Cinema: Japan and U.S.’ at Sogetsu Art Center in June 1966 and performed happenings in Tokyo.

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 10.07.40

[Kenji Kanesaka (top right) during the making of Super Up!]

Shinkichi Tajiri

A Dutch-American artist with Japanese ancestry, Shinkichi Tajiri moved to Amsterdam in 1956. A sculptor, painter, photographer and filmmaker, he studied under Fernand Léger in Paris and was closely associated with the European avant-garde art movement COBRA. He received a Golden Palm at Cannes Film Festival for his first short film The Vipers (1956) and has exhibited at Stedelijk Museum and Documenta II, III, and IV.

See a short documentary on Shinkichi Tajiri, including an excerpt from Tajiri (1962), by Dutch documentary filmmaker Johan van der Keuken.

Shinkichi Tajiri’s sculpture Made in USA (1964) is currently on view at the Rijksmuseum, top floor.

Anna Abraham’s interview with Shinkichi Tajiri can be read in MM2. Experimental Films in the Netherlands since 1960 (Filmbank/de Balie, 2004), edited by Anna Abrahamas, Mariska Graveland, Erwiin van ‘t Hart and Peter van Hoof. Available for purchased at the EYE shop.


Made in USA

[Shinkichi Tajiri sculpting ‘Made in USA’ (1964). Courtesy of Giotta Tajiri]

Yoji Kuri

One of the most important figures in Japanese independent animation, Yoji Kuri’s films travelled to more places than any other Japanese filmmaker’s works in the 1960s. Receiving awards at Annecy International Animation Festival, Venice Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Krakow Film Festival and International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, his short animation works received international accolade. Yoji Kuri was a subject of two seasons at Nederlands Filmmuseum in August 1968 and December 1973 respectively.

Read the manifesto of the Three-Person Animation Circle [English].

Read an essay by Shuntaro Tanikawa on the Three-Person Animation Circle [English].

Biography [Japanese].


Tomonari Nishikawa:

Tomonari Nishikawa is currently living in upstate New York, teaching in Cinema Department at Binghamton University. His recent film 45 7 Broadway (2013) screened at International Film Festival Rotterdam earlier this year. He is co-founder of Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival (KLEX) and of Transient Visions: Festival of the Moving Image, in New York.

Read an interview with Tomonari Nishikawa and Daïchi Saïto:



Daïchi Saïto:

Originally from Japan, Daïchi Saïto currently lives in Montreal, Canada. After studying philosophy in the US and Hindi and Sanskrit in India, he turned to filmmaking in Montreal. He is a co-founder of the Double Negative Collective, a Montreal-based artist filmmaking group dedicated to experimental cinema.

Read more on Double Negative Collective.

Read an interview with Daïchi Saïto on LUMEN.


Takahiko Iimura:

Active since 1960, Takahiko Iimura has lived between Tokyo and New York producing film and video works for screenings, performances and installations. A pioneer of expanded cinema, film installations and video art in Japan, Iimura’s extensive body of work has screened at Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, Anthology Film Archives and the Centre Georges Pompidou. He first showed his films in Amsterdam at the Nederlands Filmmuseum during his six-month Europe tour in 1969.

Read an interview with Takahiko Iimura by Julian Ross, curator of this programme.




[Left film critic Jyushin Sato, Right filmmaker Takahiko Iimura. Photo taken in Filmmakers’ Co-operative, New York, in 1966. Courtesy of Takahiko Iimura]

Pirate Cinema

Pirate Cinema is an ongoing project initiated by Ehsan Fardjadniya (visual artist) since 2012 in Amsterdam. Pirate Cinema acts as a catalyst for social happenings, gatherings and meetings, to arouse conditions for new relations, ideas and interactions.


Facebok Group.



Recommended Reading:

In & Out of Amsterdam: Exhibition Catalogue, Museum of Modern Art (2009)

Accented Cinema by Hamid Naficy (2001)

Moving the Sleeping Images of Things Towards the Light by Daïchi Saïto (2013)

Stereoscopic Views by Tajiri: Exhibition catalogue, Stedelijk Museum (1979)

Film program and text by Julian Ross.

Julian Ross is a PhD researcher on Japanese expanded cinema and experimental film at the University of Leeds. He is the editor of online film magazine Vertigo and a curator of film programmes based in Amsterdam. He was an assistant curator for ‘Art Theatre Guild and Japanese Underground Cinema’ that toured internationally to venues including the British Film Institute and the Museum of Modern Art. His most recent publication on Takahiko Iimura’s 1960s film performances was published by MoMA on their website post.


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