Above Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo XI in 2006 at Sadler’s Wells, before going on stage to play Yoemon in Kasane.
Bottom Ebizo getting ready backstage at Sadler’s Wells to play in Fuji Musume (Wisteria Maiden).
From capturing American comedian Ben Stiller, Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, former US president Bill Clinton, to the faces of high fashion artistry, Paul Smith and Yohji Yamamoto, award-winning portrait and fashion photographer Frédéric Aranda now unveils the backstage secrets of kabuki. Aranda captures the first glimpses in its 400 years of history, images which have never before appeared in the world, not even in Japan.
Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance–drama created around 1600. Its individual characters of kabuki in kanji (the adopted logographic Chinese characters) means sing–dance–skill, often translated into ‘the art of singing and dancing’. The modern version of kabuki is well ingrained to the country’s new generation and, to an extent, in the western world. ‘All the visual aspects of the kimono, the make-up, the wigs, the set design and I think all of this has huge artistic value to us in the west—it’s a totally new perspective,’ says Aranda, describing its relevance.
Aranda was granted to access the secret backstage and rehearsal scenes of kabuki theatres, capturing a stunning set of images of the art’s brightest young actors over the last five years. Aranda recalls this experience: ‘It was a magical time in my life … To be able to dive into another culture through their theatre was a unique opportunity.’
Now his photographic exhibition about this unknown world is on its way to London.
The exhibition will be held at the Hospital Club in London, from March 9 to 16, 2012, as an official pre-launch event to the Japan Festival 2012 in London, organized by Japan in time for the London Olympics. The aim is to show Japan’s appreciation to the world for its support after the Great North Japan Earthquake and Tsunami last year. Sponsors include Fujifilm, and Genesis Laboratory.
All proceeds from this exhibition will go to the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund. •
For more information about this event, go to the Hospital Club at www.thehospitalclub.com/club_news/view/true/club-news/-/0/kabuki-one-year-on. For more information about Frédéric Aranda, visit his website at fredericaranda.com.
‘It was a magical time in my life … To be able to dive into another culture through their theatre was a unique opportunity’
Yuka Murai of YM Biz & Media is a correspondent for Lucire.
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