Jeremy Wade “there is no end to more” at Japan Society
Japan Society Artistic Director Yoko Shioya saw Butoh in Jeremy Wade’s Bessie award-winning duet Glory and, though this was not in his movement background, sent him to Tokyo for research and then brought his work there is no end to more (sight unseen) for its world premiere last month. Last night, it returned to the Japan Society for a one night return engagement. The hour long solo show is directed and choreographed by Wade in collaboration with performer Jared Gradinger. Set inside three asymmetrical white walls by Henning Ströh and surrounded by video of manga-inspired illustrations from Hiroki Otsuka and insane talking dogs, kitties, rainbows, photo collages, and more, more, more from video artist Veith Michael, Gradinger spends an hour moving through a series of free-association gestures and movement in between stops at the podium for twisted interludes in a surreal and disgusting children’s show. During the dance sections, a constantly running voice over careens through an endless stream-of-conscious description of anime-based scenarios and activities, from flying horses to color-coordinated outfits, kissing everyone, and feeling “So Proud.”
Wade plunges into the deep, dark heart of the insidious kawaii (“cute”) culture in Japan – smashing the cheerful, mute Hello Kitty sentiment into the post-nuclear aesthetic of Akira. Though, in truth, a bit of a lifelong kawaii consumer myself, I had found the overwhelming inanity and aggressive fetishizing of things small, large-eyed, furry, or female exhausting when I first arrived at its mecca. Wade effectively skewers the constant process of reduction to simplistic, moronic, happy-happy statements via the children’s show scenes and then counters with visuals from Ikea catalogs and an ominous voice-over that details the pyscho-social repercussions of mass consumerism. The experience is one of assault with the relentless “more” of conformity, the endless “more” material possessions to fill a void, the constant “more” of chatter and noise, the infinite “more” of grand, sweet, absurd, violent comic book worlds all battling to devour us like Boo-Hoo, one of Otsuka’s animated characters who looks like a friendly ghost but confesses to be full of shit and ready to spew at any moment.