new-york

“New Video: Japan”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

This exhibition of 23 recent video works by Japanese artists opened with Video Letter, 1982–83, a visual and aural correspondence between the poet Shuntaro Tanikawa and the filmmaker Shuji Terayama. This feature-length work begins with the sound of a music box being wound, then the sound of a childhood lullaby. A roll of film is slowly unwound, frame by frame: the image of two young men in intimate, laughing togetherness . Then a number of blank frames of film, and the grayish photograph of a young boy. Tanikawa says, “I found old photographs of you from the 1960s.” A poem is read. The first simple letter is over, and it has affirmed an elementary interpersonality, between the correspondents themselves and between them and the eavesdropping audience. One’s critical esthetic eye has been effectively disarmed.

In Terayama’s reply, the pages of a book slowly turn, setting up one of Video Letter

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