An evening of new solo work by the internationally respected Japanese noise artist/composer Keiji Haino includes the Midwest premiere of his sound score for Cameron Jamie’s most recent film, JO (2004, 42 minutes) on Friday, October 6, 8 pm in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. The performance is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Cameron Jamie on view through October 22.
For his fourth film, JO, Cameron Jamie unfolds a three-part investigation of the precarious line that separates nationalism, patriotism, and bigotry. Beginning in Orléans, France, he recorded a series of events organized in conjunction with the annual celebration of the feast day of Saint Joan of Arc. On the second Sunday in May, a teenage girl dressed in armor rides through the streets on horseback in celebration of the female warrior’s great feats in battle and in commemoration of her martyrdom at the hands of the English. Joan of Arc, one of the most popular saints of the Roman Catholic Church, has also been a military and political symbol of French national pride since the time of Napoleon.
Most recently, the Maid of Orléans has been proclaimed the patron saint of the right-wing party Front National led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has become known for his excessive national pride, conservatism, and xenophobia. The second chapter of the film spotlights the FN’s homage to this heroine, with Le Pen and other politicians placing flowers at a golden Joan of Arc statue.
JO concludes with another annual celebration, no less patriotic: the Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, at which Japanese champion Takeru Kobayashi breaks his own record by eating 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Through this collage of extreme systems of identification, Jamie exposes the grotesque side of nationalism. (2004, color/BW, video, 42 minutes; sound track by Keiji Haino). Coproduced in collaboration with the Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, Austria.
Keiji Haino (灰野 敬二 Haino Keiji)
Keiji Haino was born in 1952 in Chiba, Japan, and currently resides in Tokyo. His work has included rock, free improvisation, noise, singing, songwriting, solo percussion, psychedelic, minimalism and drone styles, and covers. Performing since the 1970s he’s known for intensely cathartic sound explorations. Much of his work bears an insular singularity, but his varied output eschews a signature style.
Haino’s initial artistic outlet was theater, inspired by the radicalism of the Antonin Artaud-influenced Shuji Terayama. A pivotal moment came when he heard The Doors’ When The Music’s Over and changed course towards music. After brief stints in a number of blues and experimental outfits, he formed the improvised rock band Lost Aaraaf in 1970. In the mid-1970s, having left Lost Aaraaf, he collaborated with psychedelic multiinstrumentalist Magical Power Mako and film soundtrack composer Toru Takemitsu.
His musical output throughout the late 1970s is scarcely documented, until the formation of his rock duo Fushitsusha in 1978 (although their first LP did not surface until 1989) which featured Haino on guitar and vocals, and Tamio Shiraishi on synthesizer. A trio was formed with the departure of Shiraishi and the addition of Jun Hamano (bass) and Shuhei Takashima (drums). The lineup soon changed, with Yasushi Ozawa (bass) and Jun Kosugi (drums) performing throughout the 1990s, but returned to a duo with Haino supplementing percussion with tape-loops.
Haino formed Aihiyo in 1998, principally playing a diverse range of covers (including The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience), transforming the original material into his unique form of garage psychedelia.
Other groups Haino has formed include Vajra (with underground folk singer Kan Mikami and drummer Toshiaki Ishizuka), Knead (with the avant-prog outfit Ruins), Sanhedolin (with Yoshida Tatsuya of Ruins and Mitsuru Nasuno of Altered States and Ground Zero), and a solo project called Nijiumu. He has also collaborated with a diverse range of artists, including Faust, Boris, Jim O’Rourke, Derek Bailey, Peter Brotzmann, Lee Konitz, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Charles Gayle, Musica Transonic, and Fred Frith.
Haino cites a broad range of influences, including troubadour music, Marlene Dietrich, Iannis Xenakis, Syd Barrett, and Charlie Parker. His recent foray into DJing at Tokyo nightclubs has reportedly reflected his eclectic taste. He has had a long love affair with early blues music, particularly the works of Blind Lemon Jefferson, and is heavily inspired by the Japanese musical concept of ‘Ma’, the silent spaces in music. He also has a keen interest in Butoh dancing and collecting ethnic instruments.
Backyard teenage wrestlers, spook houses, eating contests, and a winter visitation by mythical beasts are just some of the fringe rituals Cameron Jamie explores through his art. Working across materials and media, he frequently collaborates with street-portrait artists and celebrity impersonators as well as musicians such as the Melvins and Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino. The resulting work conflates investigative strategies, autobiography, mythologies, vernacular traditions, and urban folklore to examine contemporary life, our fascination with the outlandish, and our need for escapism—what one critic has identified as “backyard anthropology” or what the artist calls “social theater.” Jamie’s work was included in the Walker’s 2003 exhibition How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age.
The current Walker Art Center exhibition, his first solo museum show in the United States, presents works ranging from drawings to sculptural objects to films created over the past 20 years, including examples of investigations around the notion of portraiture, self-representation, and collective identity, many of which have never been shown together. Also featured is the artist’s acclaimed film trilogy (BB, Spook House, and Kranky Klaus) along with selections from his photographic studies, ephemera, and archival material collected during the production of the films.
In 1998, Los Angeles–born Jamie began an objective examination of the backyard-wrestling phenomenon in Southern California, which led him into an ongoing investigation of folkloric reenactments, horror amusements, or what he describes as “the different types of ritualized social theatrics in America.” Shot in black-and-white Super 8, BB (2000), part of the Walker’s collection, focuses on teenagers in backyards across the San Fernando Valley as they jump off roofs and throw chairs at each other in an homage to televised wrestling heroes. The second film, Spook House (2003), is set in a working-class suburb of Detroit as residents construct haunted houses before Halloween. With the eye of an anthropologist, Jamie documented residents transforming homes, lawns, and abandoned structures into spook houses and cemeterylike settings. The final film of the trilogy, Kranky Klaus (2002–2003), chronicles the pagan celebration of Krampus in a snowbound village of Salzburg’s Bad Gastein Valley in central Austria, where each year on December 6, villagers congregate in homes awaiting a cortege of mythical elves and men dressed as horned, hairy beasts led by an elder bishop. Their performed grotesque ritual of “accepted” violence provides the cathartic experience of relieving daily abuses.
The humanistic quality of Cameron Jamie’s work, his collaborative practice, and his deliberate long-term engagement with his subjects bring to mind the tactics of “cine-ethnography” introduced by ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch (1917–2004), a pioneer of cinéma vérité. Immersing himself in peripheral elements of contemporary culture, Jamie becomes an ethnographer in search of alternative strategies for understanding and interpreting the layers of our knowledge and cultural structures.
Tickets to Cameron Jamie and Keiji Haino Jo are $15 ($12 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.