In honour of 和製英語, or “Japanese-made English,” I hereby make “Performance Art” a verb. (It’s such an honour I have to use British spelling.) So, let’s Performance Art!
The week that I was in the training seminar saw the start of the Graduation Exhibit of my school’s outgoing art majors. Fortunately, it continued on that weekend, so I didn’t miss out.
Photography was allowed at this exhibit; however, since you have to be dead parallel to a work to photograph it correctly (in the case of flat media), and I didn’t have a tripod, nearly all of the pictures I took are skewed. I wish I could say what awesome students made these, but alas, I can’t.
Well, I’ll share just two of my favorites, though again, these photos are skewed.
A careful observer (or regular reader of the “About Lucky Hill” page) will notice that the current header image is a modified crop of this painting, which is itself a take on one of Hokusai‘s most famous prints.
This painting, as well as the following one, are both in the 日本画, “nihonga” discipline. A student once explained to me how the paint is made for this style. A powdered dye is mixed with a medium, but I couldn’t understand what that medium was and it wasn’t egg. So it’s sort of like tempera paint, but not quite.
I just love the expression on the face of the little ghost on the right. He’s like, “whooooa!” ^o^♡
…I can’t remember for the life of me what these little ghost things are called.
EDIT (August 2011): Well, I meant to put this in here a month ago. ^_^; Thanks to the July issue of Arena 37°C, a rock magazine, I found out the name of these things: Teru Teru Bouzu. (/Edit)
As for the title of this post, it refers to the performance art some of the students put on. One girl painted another girls’ face, neck, shirt and headband. When the painter started painting the girl in greens, I thought it was supposed to be camouflage. When she added red to the headband, I wondered if she could really be painting a soldier whose brains have been blown out, and not a watermelon. In the end, the painted girl got up and walked behind a covered board. The painter made a sign that said what I assume was the painted girl’s name, with the day’s date. Then the board was unveiled, revealing the painted girl sandwiched between a gold frame and a background that outlined her in red.
“I guess she’s not a watermelon,” was my conclusion. ^o^;
Actually, a lot of the students’ work is political in nature. There’s lots of commentary on Japan’s aging society, war, and environmental issues. However, I do have to wonder how much of it comes out of their heads, and how much of it is strongly suggested by their teachers. I guess because art teachers at this school do things like draw on students’ drawings (which rather shocked me, since my art education was all about finding our own style and I had one professor who wouldn’t even draw in our presence lest he impose his style on us!) it’s easier for me to believe they’re just parroting back on canvas what their teachers have told them.
Another interesting thing about these kids’ art education is the highly polished technique they’ve achieved as just high schoolers. I do believe that the States’ emphasis on originality and one’s own style has created a deficit in technical skill. For example, it’s a common art school exercise to copy a famous painting, but the copies we did when I was a student were pure and utter garbage compared to the copies these kids make.
Well, maybe my views would be different if I had gone to an actual art college that required a portfolio for admission rather than just the art department of a university.
So all this week I’ve been asking the freshman classes if they went to go see the seniors’ exhibit. In a class two days ago, when I asked the class this question, the teacher came up to me and said, “I think they didn’t know about the show.” So I asked them, “Did you know about this exhibit?” and they said no. So from then on I asked all the other classes this, and save for the first year art course, they all said they didn’t know about it! How it is that they missed the bright orange-pink posters announcing it that were plastered around the school, I would like to know. ^_^;
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