An Empty Room – Imagining Butoh and the Social Body in Crisis

AUTHOR: Michael Sakamoto
PUBLISHER: Wesleyan University Press (2022)

PAPERBACK: 272 pages
ISBN13: 978-0-819-58065-8

Title sold out

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Reinterpreting butoh’s history to reimagine its future

An Empty Room is a transformative journey through butoh, an avant-garde form of performance art that originated in Japan in the late 1950’s and is now a global phenomenon. This is the first book about butoh authored by a scholar-practitioner who combines personal experience with ethnographic and historical accounts alongside over twenty photos. Author Michael Sakamoto traverses butoh dance history from its roots in post-World War II Japan to its diaspora in the West in the 1970s and 1980s. An Empty Room delves into the archive of butoh dance, gathering testimony from multiple generations of artists active in Japan, the US, and Europe. The book also creatively highlights seminal visual and written texts, especially Hosoe Eikoh’s photo essay, “Kamaitachi,” and Hijikata Tatsumi’s early essays. Sakamoto ultimately fashions an original view of what butoh has been, is and, more importantly, can be through the lens of literary criticism, photo studies, folklore, political theory, and his experience performing, photographing, teaching, and lecturing in 15 countries worldwide.