Confronting Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman Tachitasa

About Confronting Barnett Newman

In 1995, I started an series of act in nature and in various environments with taking records of them and named these activities “Ta chi ta sa”, and along with these I have collaborated with artists, musicians, photographers, and dancers to produce and represent the works. Takako Ihoda, who has been executing these performances, is trying to confront the paintings of Barnett Newman, who influenced me the most as an artist and gave me the starting point of this activity, with the act of standing slowly. I will visit Newman's works all over the world, stand in front of them, and record the performance with video images and photographs. Besides the performance, the tour holds my one-man show that displays the records so far as an integral work.
After tens of minutes taken to stand up finally, how does the vertical line standing through the body resonate with space and time created by each Newman's painting and its vertical line? Can you feel what Newman called "Sublime" in this act of "stand" and "standing" that most people do everyday?

About " Ta chi ta sa ," late Kunio Motoe (former professor of the Tama Art University) described the performance as a process becoming a vertical line called a zip that appears in Newman's paintings, saying that while the "space is essentially public," the "time is utterly private" for Newman, who emphasized the "work of the physical sensation," and asked if Ms. Ihoda's indigenous and physical gestures are wonderful realizations of that. "
What physical changes occurs depending on his work I face, country, and location? How do they accept Newman's work in each country? How do you feel and understand the act of “Ta chi ta sa”? What do you see that?
My goal is to travel to other countries and finally to perform in front of "Queen of the Night I" (1951) in the collection of the National Museum of Art, Osaka. Especially in Japan, where there are few works of Newman, I wanted to let Newman and his work be appreciated by broader public, so I intend to go abroad and collaborate as if in order to bring Newman back.

About Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman (1905-1970): American painter and sculptor.
He is a key figure of abstract expressionism and color field painting. Born in New York

Why Barnett Newman ?

My art began with painting and now I use my body to express art. However, as it is neither dance nor butoh, it is a form of art difficult to categorize.
Ever since I studied painting, I have been strongly intrigued by paintings and two-dimensional art- works that seem cut off from gravity, solely with vertical presence, and that stir the minds and senses of museum visitors, while possessing wide and deep space and time. To me, nothing fits this mold more perfectly than Barnett Newman paintings. Nothing impacted me more than this experience where I could feel resonated physically, sensibly, and mentally with the work in front of me that was parallel to my weakened body, barely standing with nothing to focus on, stained in the color of the painting, as well as with Newman himself.
From that time, and even now as I practice activities using my body it has always been a light like measure by my side.

After finishing the 2014 exhibit and “Tachitasa” performance I received questions from people such as "Is Newman present behind you?" and "Does your motivation toward your performance originate from there?" If I, as of today, should confront Newman's works in a more serious way from a more equal standpoint, even by mustering enough courage to do so, I could possibly never think other way than appealing to the performance of this “Tachitasa” itself. Gradually I have come to convince myself that I must have been engaged in my activities to face Barnett Newman. The great artist Newman is the very person who has motivated me to start my performance.
Takako Ihoda Excerpt from the greetings “Ta chi ta sa_” Exhibition2018 in Basel

Confronting Barnett Newman in Washington, D.C.

In 2022, as the third step of the Confronting I will go to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., USA, and to act in the exhibition room of Barnett Newman's masterpiece "The Stations of the Cross" (1958-66), which is permanently exhibited in the East Building of the NGA. I will execute "Standing" performance there.

The United States is the hometown of Newman, who created and led Abstract Expressionism.

Though the performance had been scheduled to be held in 2020, the year of the 50th anniversary of Newman's death, it was postponed due to the influence of COVID-19. I have been interacting with the National Gallery of Art since 2019, and official permission was granted in January 2020. I will carry out the performance there and record it with videos and photos.

The work "The Stations of the Cross" is a series of 14 paintings of almost the same size (190 cm x 152 cm), all of which are simple and stoic paintings with monochrome surfaces, vertical lines, and a little faint texture of the brush. Although the title seems to be religious, Newman himself describes this series as "the story of each man's agony", "an unanswerable cry ", and a story about all ordinary people*. Isn't there any story of suffering for every individual in 2020 and 2021?

Coincidentally, the word "station" comes from the Latin "stare" meaning "stand", and it is also part of the message that Newman put in the title.

Newman insisted, "my zip does not divide my paintings. ... but it unites the thing. It creates a totality."* Is it possible to confront the space surrounded by the fourteen paintings of "The Stations of the Cross" displayed on the four large walls of the exhibition room, deeply associating myself with each painting? Is it possible to create the wholeness of the space by standing in the middle position surrounded by the series of the works? It must be a interesting challenge what I can show to Americans, if I can draw an auxiliary line for today's interpretation of this universal work, after 50 years of his death.

* Quoted from the brochure of the special exhibition "Barnett Newman : The Stations of the Cross, Lema Sabachthani " 2015

Confronting so far