This is a moment from a video installation called “Portrait of a Young Samurai", by the Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi. I saw it a while back in Venice as part of the exhibition for the Pinchuk Foundation’s Future Generation Art Prize, but I haven’t had a chance to Daily Pic it until now. (Click on the image to watch a video clip.) In the piece, Koizumi gets a young actor to rehearse a monologue that has a kamikaze pilot saying a final fairwell to his parents. Offscreen, we hear Koizumi pushing the rehearser to ever more extreme emotional states, and we watch as the young man attempts to nail an unthinkable part. As we see the professional actor try, and mostly fail, to break through all normal limits of thought and feeling, we wonder how so many thousands of Japanese men once did precisely that. There’s also something brilliantly chilling about Koizumi’s calm tone, as he coaches his actor to inhabit breakdown.
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