Saturday, April 10, 2010

Toronto film curator Naomi Hocura brings Japanese art animation to Winnipeg

by Chris MaGee

Last summer Toronto had a double shot of japanese film and culture when both the Shinsedai Cienma Festival and Seconds Under the Sun took place in August. Seconds Under the Sun, programmed by independent curator (and member of local experimental four-piece Vowls) Naomi Hocura brought together the best of contemporary Japanese art animation into one exciting night. Not only did the crowd who packed Toronto's Function13 gallery get to see short films by the likes of Shintaro Kago, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Naoyuki Tsuji, and Daisuke Ichiba, but they got to meet Japanese artist and animator Akino Kondoh. Word of this hugely successful event made its way to the ear of Kier-La Janisse, the programmer for Winnipeg's three-day PLASTIC PAPER: Festival of Animated, Illustrated + Puppet Film and now folks in Manitoba will be able to see all these great films when Seconds Under the Sun opens the fest on May 5th.

I recently got to chat with Naomi Hocura a bit about her inspiration and intentions behind putting together Seconds Under the Sun and how she has been involved in bringing a new component to PLASTIC PAPER - an exhibit of the work of Japanese artist Daisuke Ichiba (above).

CM: What do you hope people will take away from their "Seconds Under the Sun" experience?

NH: Inspiration! When choosing the shorts I tried to represent a variety of styles, contemporary works as well as old masters like Kihachiro Kawamoto. I think there is something for everyone. As a whole, I intended the screening to serve as a sort of trap door to the attic of Japanese animation, a mysterious ladder that would entice people to discover more on their own.

CM: Of all the artists presented in the programme what made you choose Daisuke Ichiba's work [Ichiba's film "Les Religions Sauvages" is included in the programme] to single out and expand into the full exhibition "Mess Japan"?

NH: I've known about Daisuke Ichiba's artwork for a few years and came across his animation when Film Fort screened the underground French publisher Le Dernier Cri's compilation "Les Religions Sauvages" early last year. My husband, Brandon, and I had already been to Paris a year prior to hunt down some of his posters and books, and were in discussion with Ichiba to try to organize a Toronto exhibit. I'm not exactly sure how the creation of that animation came about (Le Dernier Cri facilitated the creation of his animation, but I'm not sure how the process played out), but his images are visceral on their own and suit the choppy cutout animation style. His work provides an exciting curatorial challenge: how does one reconcile the beautiful with the abject? His piece is the one that I received the most comments about at the last Seconds Under the Sun screening in August, so we had proof that Toronto was hungry for more! The organizers of PLASTIC PAPER were all really into Ichiba's work and invited us to put on the show to coincide with the screening. There are definitely other artists that I know also create fine art (Akino Kondoh), and I hope to facilitate more exhibits in the future. One thing at a time!

Seconds Under the Sun opens this year's PLASTIC PAPER: Festival of Animated, Illustrated + Puppet Film in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 5th at the Park Theatre at 8:00PM and will be followed by a live performance by Vowls. Click here for a full listing of the films that will be screened as part of Seconds Under the Sun and PLASTIC PAPER.

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