In the below excerpted quotes, Nam June Paik used the German word “unheimlich,” when he described the experimental spirit in his artist friends. He would have described Hi Red Center’s happening events Shelter Plan (1964) and Cleaning Event (1964) as unheimlich as well. Select one of the two happening events and explain in your analysis (300-400 words) what was experimental about the artwork.
Hi Red Center, Shelter Plan, happening event/performance, 1964
Hi Red Center, Cleaning Event, happening event/performance, 1964
… my impression [on Hijikata] at that time was that it was quite original, fresh, and touched on the dark source of the deep Asian soul. Again, I use the German word unheimlich which combines the feelings of inscrutable, mysterious, profound, scary, and quiet. (Paik, 78)
Three guys [Akasegawa Genpei, Takamatsu Jiro, Nakanishi Natsuyuki of Hi Red Center] calmly stood up and staged four hours of a Happening with their own unheimlich quietness, painted seriousness, and intellectual mockery. (Paik, 81)
Hints: Remember, writing a solid description of the work is important in art history! In this lesson, you have learned a new “medium” of art that is different from ink painting or woodblock print: a performance event, also often called as happening. To analyze a happening event in Tokyo during the 1960s, you will need to address as many of these elements as possible:
1) The physical site and timing (Where was it? When did it take place?)
2) The act or set-up by the artists (What did the artists do?)
3) The involvement of participants (Who were they? How did they actively participate or unknowingly participate in the event?);
4) Documentation of the event (Photographs? Video? How is the event presented to us today? We were unfortunately not there to participate in the event.)
5) The socio-political context
6) And, of course, the artists: who/what was the Hi Red Center?
When you are done writing, indicate the word count (it should be between 300 and 400 words).