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Akira Takayama

Akira Takayama was born in Tokyo in 1969. He studied literature in the Japanese capital and lived in Europe from 1994 to 1999. After returning to Japan, he founded the group “Port B” in 2003, a collective featuring people from various artistic and non-artistic disciplines. In this context he usually works on performative installations or excursions into public space. In 2008, in “Sunshine 62”, he invited participants on a tour alongside the famous skyscraper Sunshine 60 to look into Japanese post-war history. In “The Complete Manual of Evacuation” participants were asked to make their own way on the loop line of Tokyo's train system. At the stations, they met up with various social communities in the city. In his works, the director takes up political topics that are considered taboo in Japanese society, such as the involvement in World War II, the drop in prosperity, and the social decline of the younger generation, as well as most recently the catastrophe in Fukushima.

Given that Japan has never before had a public referendum, in autumn 2011 he initiated the “Referendum Project”. He toured by truck to several Japanese cities, and so far he has conducted more than 1000 interviews with middle-school students, which were presented on eight video stations inside the truck. The project was accompanied by a discussion series, in which guests from various genres like literature, architecture and sociology posed the core questions of Japanese post-war history. Also in 2011,Takayama showed “Compartment City” at the Wiener Festwochen. Visitors could rent space in a video booth on a public square where they could watch interviews with homeless persons, tourists and passers-by. In 2013 he was part of the exhibition course “Unruhe der Form” at the Wiener Festwochen. The participants could listen to “Fukushima – Epilog?”, a text by Elfriede Jelinek, at different stations. In addition, Takayama invited participants to join him in a tour to the now defunct nuclear power plant Zwentendorf. He guided the visitors through the site, impressively regaling them with personal lectures. He work is now being seen for the first time at HAU Hebbel am Ufer as part of the festival “Japan Syndrome”. 

21.-29.05.2014 / Parcours 3.11 / HAU1
23.05.2014 / Conversation:Hikaru Fujii and Akira Takayama / HAU1
25.05.2014 / Discussion:“Ende der Komfortzone” / HAU2