Transitioning to the Symposium 2020.3-2021.6


In the diaries of Ko Murobushi

Stephen Barber

In the diaries of Ko Murobushi, we witness an infinite excavation of the matters of the human body, of the ‘outside’ that always holds imperatives of transit which render names inoperable, and also of the gesture of judgement that forever needs to be interrogated and disintegrated. It seems that it’s in the zonal place that transmutation can be attempted, oscillating between living and dying. Ko Murobushi is thinking in this diary fragment of Dostoevsky’s judgements and punishments, but perhaps also of Artaud and his 1947 writings for his last radio work, To have done with the judgement of god, which imagines dance as able (along with percussions and screams) to annul both judgement and plagues: ‘there are only plagues/cholera/smallpox/because dance… hasn’t yet started to exist.’ Judgement is what defeats us… Without judgement, in Ko Murobushi’s text, another kind of knowledge reveals itself, intimate to the body in its deviations and underhand manoeuvres. Do we discover that inverted knowledge in the diary fragments of Ko Murobushi?: that’s why it’s so important to search for them, in his endless archive (via a leap into the archive). As Hidenaga Otori’s text on the project Nijinski at Midnight emphasizes, that leap involves ‘a new search for resistance’ and new searches too into incarceration’s proliferating spaces: jails, camps, political ruses, all of which can only be annulled through equally new ‘underhand’ resistances, that are simultaneously convulsions. Ko Murobushi’s dance could be the embodiment of that resistance. Dance could then be reimagined as through Ko Murobushi’s work – to ‘throw ourselves into the most dangerous and suspicious, and therefore tempting, place’ – and via Artaud’s demands (in his To have for the judgement of god) for ‘dancing back to front/as in the delirium of dance halls/and that inverted place with be the veritable one’. So, a place that is outside of judgement…

Stephen Barber

Stephen Barber is the author of many non-fiction and fiction books, such as White Noise Ballrooms (2018) and most recently Film’s Ghosts (2019) on Tatsumi Hijikata’s collaborations in film, as well as books on Antonin Artaud, Jean Genet, Pierre Guyotat and Eadweard Muybridge. His books have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, French, Spanish and Chinese, and have won many international awards. He is a professor of art and film at the Kingston University School of Art in London and a fellow of the Berlin Free University’s performance cultures research centre. He met Ko Murobushi a number of times and discussed Artaud’s work with him.

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