Dec 4, 2011

The 45 minutes restrained exhilaration - Makigami Koichi interpretation of Christian Marclay's Manga Scroll

Christian Marclay's Manga Scroll
interpreted by Makigami Koichi
October 22, 2011
@ BankART studio NYK

The place was packed. A corner of the ground floor, a huge warehouse at seaside in Yokohama. It was like a spacious gallery, but the ceiling was exceptionally high, and there was no art piece hanging on the wall.

There were about 50 people sitting on chair, and they was surrounded by more people standing. Everybody was gazing a man at the bottom of the space. The man was Makigami Koichi, dressed in all black, making various non-verbal noises out from his vocal apparatus, while watching a wide paper in front of him. And everybody was silent and watching the man anxiously, including the author, Christian Marclay himself, who sat in the first row.

It was a premiere performance of Marclay's grandiose piece called "Manga Scroll" in Japan. Manga Scroll is a collage work. The author choose many onomatopoeia in comics, all from translations of Japanese comics, then placed them on a scroll which is 18 meters (60 feet) long. For public performance, a vocalist is to recite onomatopoeia watching on "the score," while two assistants are to roll up the scroll.

For the Japanese premiere, Makigami Koichi was chosen as a performer. It was taken as a matter of course. For such an important task, undoubtedly, he is one of the best persons around. Besides being a world-class vocal performer himself, he started a singing career professionally as a lead vocalist of a band called Hikashu, and the band's early repertoire included songs having onomatopoeia as its title, namely "Puyo Puyo" and "Doro Doro." Such conduct is pretty unusual, even for Japanese, and he has been singing them for over thirty years.

The event itself formed part of a big art event called Yokohama Art Triennale, and the demand was high. The numbered ticket for entrance started passing out a few hours before the event. People made a waiting line before then, and the tickets were quickly gone.

Apparently there was overwhelming demand, and the staff had to deal with the problem. And their action was pretty appropriate; They changed the policy to admission free.

So the place was congested. Everybody was quiet, but there was heated atmosphere.

It was a quite challenge, even for Makigami. He had to see the score while performing. His solo performance is usually based on improvisation, and the piece was exceptionally long, and written in English.

Eventually, the performance continued for 45 minutes. Many performers did the piece in the past, but most of them did it for about 15 minutes. Makigami's performance is one of the longest - probably only second to Phil Minton, who did it for an hour.

When Makigami finished it, there was a huge applause.

Fter the performance, the audience was allowed to see the piece in close, while the assistants rolling back it, and the people quickly flocked around it. It was like a graphic score. The characters were pretty decorated, and partly patterned. There were parts more than one stream of words. Although the piece was a reproduction, prepared for public performance, it showed clearly what it was like.

Shortly after the performance, Makigami and Marclay were interviewed with journalists on the spot. Marclay was apparently glad - his response seemed positive. The people stayed there for long time, conversing what they just experienced, while seeing the piece. And that's how it ended. It was truly the event of a lifetime.

Now an exhibition of the Marclay's works being held at Gallery Konayagi of Ginza. You can see "Manga Scroll," the real one, for yourself there.

"Christian Marclay: Scrolls"
October 25 - December 22, 2011
@ Gallery Koyanagi
Ginza, Tokyo

Note: closed on Mondays, Sundays, and national holidays
Gallery Koyanagi website (in English and Japanese)

Gallery Koyanagi, Ginza

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There is an article about the event. It was in Japanese but you can see some photos of the event. here.

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