Come join us to kick of this year’s INICTE*INSIGHT lecture series with two evenings focusing on Althea Thauberger’s work. Her internationally produced works focus on relationships between individualism, collectivism, and conformity.
We thank Zack Davisson, writer and Japanese folklore scholar, for this guest post on our upcoming screening Hausu.
Flying vampire heads popping out of wells. A massive, shape-shifting cat. The corpse of an unloved woman wrecking ghostly revenge. For modern viewers, Nobukiko Obayashi’s 1977 film House may be a brain-melting tour of a psychedelic fever dream, but Edo-period kabuki fans would have barely fluttered an eyelash. They had seen it all before. Because, if you look past the movie’s flashy visuals and attack storytelling you will uncover a secret; House is a traditional Japanese ghost story.
For a movie so often hailed as avant-garde and experimental, House is a throwback, a retrograde. In an interview, Obayashi rejects the idea that House is even a horror film. More correctly, Obayashi says, House belongs to the genre called kaii (怪異). If you have never heard of that, don’t feel bad. Roughly translating as “strange events,” kaii was a popular genre about two hundred years ago—during the Edo-period kaidan boom.
From 1603 to 1876, Japan was addicted to kaidan (怪談; weird tales). Every conceivable artistic and entertainment medium, from painting to literature to sculpting to theater, produced works of the strange and mysterious. Kabuki theater in particular—with its sensation of gaudy, over-the-top artifice—fed the audience’s lust for blood and spectacle.
Writers and directors like Tsuruya Nanboku IV pandered to baser instincts, and delivered up some of the most bizarre, outrageous, and gory bits of ghost lore ever created. Under Nanboku IV’s hand, the kabuki stage transformed into a wild world of ghosts soaring on wires over exploding fire pots, flying vampire heads, giant fire-breathing frogs, and shape-changing cats known as bakeneko, working their mysterious kaidan magic.
Obayashi followed Kabuki’s lead, favoring the artificial over Western naturalism. House dives head-first into Grand Guignol and spectacle. And the film’s dynamic imagery is wrapped tightly around an even more traditional core.
At the heart of most kaidan—and House—is urami (恨み). Translating into English as grudge, urami comes from a Shinto/Buddhist idea where the soul is bound to Earth by unfulfilled desires. These desires can be anything—unrequited love, unexpressed gratitude, unfinished business—but it becomes meat for storytellers when coupled with resentment. A person who dies with a grudge-bearing soul infects like a plague.
House’s urami is a classic example of an obake yashiki tale. Roughly meaning “haunted house,” obake yashiki stories tell of possessed mansions inhabited by unquiet spirits. Like the Poltergeist of Tajima, obake yashiki manifest any number of ghostly phenomena from rattling windows to monsters. They are random; chaotic; terrifying. But always at the center is a single, tormented soul. Digging through these layers of horror, trying to find the curse underneath, is always part of the fun.
And just think; in 1975 when Toho studios hired Obayashi they asked him to make something like Jaws. Instead, he delivered one of the most bizarre, original—and traditional—works of cinema ever to come out of Japan.
Join us January 3rd at 7 pm at a screening of Hausu in the Henry Auditorium.
Seattle International Film Festival opens this week (Thursday, May 17th)! SIFF is the largest film festival in the country and it’s right in your backyard! SIFF kicks off with an Opening Night Gala on Thursday at 7:00 pm and runs through June 10th. There is also a great SIFFTER tool to help people sift through the more than 400 films and narrow down choices based on your preferences including genre, country, time of day, and other filters.
We at the Henry would like draw your attention to contemporary art and artists featured at the festival:
It’s another seven days at the Henry: and that means it’s time for another SHARK WEEK, the weekly feature that’s exactly like the other shark week except without sharks and instead we give you posters. Posters, that is, that go in the Henry’s Fin, which you can see in the first installment. David Herbert’s Open Studio ended last Sunday (but his exhibit is still going strong!) and Sandra Kroupa’s Book Arts talk on Sunday kicked off the monthly Performance Exhibitions series for Shelf Life. So that means THE FIN NEEDS FRESH POSTERS and this week, it’s a trilogy!
Local Sightings is Northwest Film Forum’s premiere showcase of Northwest filmmaking. The festival, which happens at NWFF’s theaters in Seattle, features great prizes, filmmaker parties, archival Northwest films and an impressive national film industry jury looking for strong Northwest work. The annual festival includes both feature film presentations as well as short film programs and special events with live film performances, installation art, audience participation and parties. Also in this year’s festival will be the usual assortment of fiction, documentary and experimental films as well as a featured presentation of a historical Seattle film, and an opening party that will ignite Seattle’s film scene Friday night and keep it bleary-eyed Saturday morning.
In the spirit of the first Seattle presentation of the Bicycle Film Festival – (tomorrow and Saturday 9/11-12/09), I’m sharing this awesome movie by Seattle-based interdiscipliary artist and bike lover Rob Zverina:
“Fifty-seven microdocumentaries shot of or from bicycles on location in Seattle, Amsterdam, and Prague, including footage from various Critical Mass rides.”
Today, The Henry Art Gallery’s student advisory group meet with Ryan Adams, a Color Timer at AlphaCine Labs, for an amazing tour of their processing facility. From optical printing to digital color timing, the experience was one that would captivate any cinephile.
With more than fifty years in the business processing award-winning films like Jesus Camp, Into the Wild, Born into Brothels, and I’m Not There, Alpha Cine provides lab services for all types of film and video processing. From traditional Lab processing (negative processing, color timing & printing), digital to film, to HD & 2k color correction, telecine and conversions to HD for feature films, documentaries, commercials and short films!
In short – they are kind of amazing. Living in a digital age it’s refreshing to see that analog technologies are still, in many ways, indispensable. Oh, by the way, do you remember Viewmasters?
On February 7, the Henry Art Gallery will open two fantastic exhibitions in the North Galleries. The Henry is proud to present the exhibition William Kentridge, an array of the South African artist’s work in visual art, including three of his celebrated films, as well as drawings, prints, sculpture, a performance work i am not me, the horse is not mine (on March 9), and a selection of recent stereoscopic images he produced as photogravures in conjunction with Pacific Operaworks, Seattle’s new chamber opera company, premiere of Kentridge’s staging of the Monteverdi opera, The Return of Ulysses for the West Coast at the Moore Theater in March and the exhibition +ROOM-ROOM, a pair of new sound works by Yann Novak (Los Angeles) and Jamie Drouin (Victoria, BC) with a performance by the artists on February 6.
South African artist William Kentridge has garnered international fame and admiration for performance, sculpture, drawings, and work in many other media, but his most indelible contribution is in animated film. Kentridge makes large-scale charcoal drawings that he erases and redraws continually, adding new elements or transforming one subject into a very different other, filming each subtle shift to animate them, literally giving movement, meaning, and life to the images he creates.
Kentridge’s interest in character and seriality, which is key to understanding his embrace of film, are both derived in part from his considerable experience working in theater. By scripting, directing, acting, and designing the sets, costumes, and posters for dozens of productions from 1975 to the present, Kentridge has become a master of finding the single gesture that sums up an entire personality.
+ROOM-ROOM is a pair of sound installations for two adjacent galleries at the Henry. Artists Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin will each individually explore how the perception of these familiar places is transformed by sound. Through contrasting sensory experiences, the installations create an experiential divide between the two virtually identical rooms and restructure notions of architectural solidity and singularity in favor of more flexible, intuitive perceptions. The aural compositions, based on actual ambient noises recorded in the galleries, turn attention onto the spaces themselves and encourage us to rethink the ways in which we process physical location, and create assumptions about our surroundings. In collaboration with the artists, the Henry will produce a CD of stereo versions of the works.
Stay tuned to Hankblog as we feature these exhibitions, artists, and events in a series of posts in the next month.
For artist Michel Auder the truth is certainly stranger than fiction. He was part of the heart of the Warhol Factory and the Soho art explosion, and was one of the first to compulsively exploit the diaristic potential of the Sony Portapak. This fictionalized biography of Auder draws on his vast archive of videotapes, connecting them with a distanced narration and new footage shot by co-director Andrew Neel.
With subject matter such as his marriages to both Viva and Cindy Sherman, and affiliations with Larry Rivers, the Zanzibar group and the downtown art scene, this is a tale of epic proportions, chronicling an amazing journey through art and life whilst providing access to a wealth of fascinating personal footage.
Hartley Neel Alexandra Auder Jelena Berhend Patrice Cauda Nico Philippe Garelle Pierre Clémenti Daniel Pommerolles Donald Cammell Laure Roldan Louis Waldon Viva Jane Fonda Taylor Mead Bridget Berlin Kris Kristofferson Shirley Clarke Harry Smith Andy Warhol Gregory Corso Jonas Mekas Henry Geldzahler Yoko Ono Astro Larry Rivers Willem de Kooning Niki de Saint Phalle Malcolm Morley David Maysles Christo Maynard Alice Neel Eric Bogosian Gary Indiana Cookie Mueller Cindy Sherman Gaby Hoffman Michael Stickrod Madonna
Tickets $6/NWFF and Henry Art Gallery members, $6.50/children & seniors, $9/general PURCHASE TICKETS NOW