Tokyo Experimental Performance Archive

The Tokyo Experimental Performance Archive is a project designed to promote the preservation and passing on of the legacy of progressive, experimental performance and to stimulate the creative cycle by building a creative archive platform.

The project's mission is to reconstruct the historical context of the genre of experimental performance based on artistic expression through physical movement that began early in the 20th century and grew along with the visual arts and music, and to build an archive that will connect and contribute to the creative activities of the next generation of performance artists.

1. Succession and the Creative Cycle

There is already a rich tradition and history of performance based on physical expression and crossover with the genres of dance, the visual arts, music and a variety of other fields. However, it can be said that in comparison with music, film and other genres that depend on techniques and technologies for replication and replaying, the scope of efforts to pass on the tradition of the artistic medium of performance and connect it to the creative cycle—which we will refer to as “succession and creative cycle”—has been much smaller and there has been a tendency for performance to be viewed and experienced almost exclusively in the real-time context and in the contemporary context.

In the past, it was difficult to see filmed or taped records of past performances of the performing arts and performance arts with their orientation in live performance. 

Today there are an increased number of film and video recordings of performances, but most of them eventually become lost without finding their way into an archive. Furthermore, overseas there are active efforts by museum and theaters and the like to collect past films and videos and archive them, but in most cases they are kept in places like libraries where the necessary procedures to gain access to them make it difficult for the general public to view them. 

The creative process is never something that starts from point zero, and every work that is created is influenced in some ways by works of the past. Be it in the genres of film, photography, music, fashion, architecture or any other, when a new work is created it is always through a process that involves some reference to past works.

New works that have been created with inspiration from works of the past will, in turn, inspire creativity in the next generation. For the concept of a “new work” to exist, it can only be as the result of going beyond some works of the past. The Tokyo Experimental Performance Archive project aims to build an archive accessible on the Internet that will make creations openly accessible to a larger number of people for the purpose of stimulating “Succession and the creative cycle” beyond the barriers of time and regional borders.

2. A New Theater

Since our founding, Japan Performance/Art Institute has produced performances of many progressive and experimental performance art works. From this perspective, we reviewed the history of performance arts and decided that it was our duty to pass this history on to the next generation.

This archive is not only a reference source for the purposes of succession and creation as we mentioned earlier but also aims to become a new-age theater open to as many people as possible and accessible for free from anywhere in the world.

Many performances in the performing arts and other genre continue to be performed on the premise that they be live performances in front of audiences gathered at specific times and places, regardless of advances in the technologies of recording and reproduction. This is a limitation that prevents a larger audience from experiencing outstanding artistic performances and a reason that the audience tends to small and insular, particularly in the case of experimental performance.

The Tokyo Experimental Performance Archive makes use of the media of the Internet to create a new platform unrestricted by time and place in order to open up experimental performance to a new audience, while at the same time seeking to create what one might call a time capsule to preserve this fountain of originality beyond time and space so that it will be accessible to people in the future.

The result will surely be that the creative genes of the artists will be passed on to new artists of the next era.

It is a platform that will preserve the genes of avant-garde performance that were nurtured in the underground arts scene and scatter them around the world and far into the future. We will continue to nurture and grow this project for the sake of audiences that will appear in the future and for the yet unseen forms of performance that will be born in the future.

3. Program Outline

  1. Performances of experimental performance art, contemporary dance and the like are held at Super Deluxe, Roppongi.
  2. The performances are filmed from all angles with multiple cameras.
  3. The broadcast video images are edited into a final version and uploaded into the online archive for free and open access by the general online audience.
  4. The contexts of these experimental performances are then written up to create a new historical perspective.

By creating programs through this 4-step process, we aim to build a platform that is at once an archive and a new form of open theater.

Japan Performance/Art Institute
Planning, venue,
operating cooperation
Super Deluxe
Jun Fujimori (Attorney)
Yasuo Ozawa (Japan Performance/Art Institute)
Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)