Shuji Terayama: Knock
If you lived in Tokyo’s Asagaya district in 1975, and you answered a knock on the door on April 19th, the chances are you would have been part of avant-garde artist and writer Shuji Terayama’s extended 30-hour experimental theatre performance Knock. Inspired by his anarchic desire to disrupt the calm and peaceful neighbourhood, Terayama had members of his Tenjō Sajiki theatre group run through the streets randomly knocking on doors, much to the perturbation of many of the residents, some of whom called the police, and all of which the artist recorded for posterity.
Despite his early death in 1983 aged 47, Terayama achieved acclaim as a filmmaker, essayist, poet, dramatist and photographer in the vanguard of Japanese ‘underground’ artists. This retrospective of his work features not just the film footage and witness photographs of the Knock event, but a program of interrelated events, including readings of some of his finest works from actors and acquaintances, as well as talks and performances. In view of the fact that London’s Tate Modern gallery also featured a separate retrospective on the artist in 2012, it’s clear that Shuji Terayama’s time has finally come. Knock on wood!