The Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) was an avant-garde collective based in Japan, which bought together artists, musicians, designers, choreographers, film-makers, and photographers.
Active in Tokyo from 1951 to 1958, the Workshop was collaborative in nature, seeking to develop connections between the practices of its members, and embracing technologies such as sound recording, photography and film. Experimental Workshop performances were complex and multi-layered installations, incorporating artist-designed sets and sculptural elements alongside film projection and specially composed music. Photographers were also important, not only recording performances but collaborating with artists to make original images from their sculptural work.
The Experimental Workshop had its own publication, Asahi Picture News (APN), launched in 1953, which included both visual and theoretical contributions from members of the group. A key aspect of the journal’s activity was a series of collaborations between artists and the photographer Kiyoji Otsuji, in which the artists made assemblages of objects containing the letters A, P and N (in reference to the title of the magazine). While these assemblages sometimes recall earlier avant-garde movements such as Russian constructivism, their use of provisional, handmade elements also anticipates later sculptural practices in Europe and Japan. The photographs in this room include works made by Otsuji with Kastuhiro Yamaguchi and with Shozo Kitadai, a leading thinker in the Experimental Workshop. Also included is a painting by Hideko Fukushima, one of the founding members of the Experimental Workshop, which, like the photographic collaborations, shows a simplicity of tone and composition.
Curated by Simon Baker and Shoair Mavlian.