AV Festival presented the first major solo exhibition of work by Akio Suzuki in the UK. When Suzuki was awakened to the world of sound in the 1960s, he began what he calls ‘na ge ka ke’ (‘to cast, to throw’) in which he does something to affect nature and then listens to the phenomenon that ensues. The exhibition included contemplative installations that are of sound but are soundless: inviting the act of listening and revealing ancient vibrations residing in nature. Inspired by his visit to the North East England coast, Suzuki placed a small stone from Marsden Rock on top of a stack of metal tables, causing reverberation and rhythm as it dances. Another work placed his Analapos echo instrument made in 1970, inside a long box for visitors to interact with singing holes at either end and wait for its response.
Akio Suzuki also performed live twice during the Festival opening weekend, in a solo performance at the Castle Keep and in a duo with Aki Onda at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. His new commission oto-date Newcastle ran for the whole Festival month across the city.
Akio Suzuki was born in Pyongyang, North Korea in 1941, and grew up in Aichi, Japan. He now lives and works in Amino near the Japanese Coast. He is a pioneer of sound art and has been performing, building instruments, and presenting sound installations for nearly 40 years.
His performances and installations have been presented at major venues internationally including: Yokohama City Art Gallery, Japan, 2010; The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2010; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan, 2007; Gelbe Musik, Berlin, Germany, 2007; The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama, Japan, 2005; and DAAD Galerie, Berlin, Germany, 2000.
He has also participated in major international events and Festivals including: Tuned City, Brussels, 2013; LISTE Art Fair Basel, Switzerland, 2013; MaerzMusik, Berlin, Germany, 2012; Nuit Blanche Festival, Paris, France, 2004; Adelaide Festival, Australia, 1999; Sonambiente Festival, Berlin, Germany, 1996; Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany, 1987; and Festival d’Automne, Paris, France, 1978.
During the 1960s, Suzuki’s sense of playfulness led him to undertake a series of Self-Study Events, where he explored the processes of “throwing” and “following”, taking the natural world as his collaborator. Following this in the 1970s he invented an echo instrument named Analapos. As an extension of the principles underlying Analapos, Suzuki constructed his major 1988 outdoor work Hinatabokko no kukan (Space in the Sun) in the natural landscape of Amino. This space consists of two huge parallel brick walls, in between which the artist can sit all day and purify his hearing by listening to the reflected sounds of nature. This led the artist to discover a new method of listening. Suzuki himself comments, “Sound, which had been conceptually imprisoned in various spaces, is freed to circle the world.”
From the late 1970s - 1980s, Suzuki developed a form of performance he refers to as Conceptual Soundwork. Applying a number of self-imposed, simple and austere rules, he used objects close at hand in a mode of “intellectual play”. While these events expressed a critique of meaningless improvised performance, Suzuki was constantly aware of the audience’s process of listening by creating contemporaneous connections with the site of performance. It was around this time that Suzuki began to travel frequently to the US and Europe.
As sound art became more widespread since the 1990s Suzuki created many installations, which involved people excavating sounds from inaudible objects. These soundless works were not designed to critique the old perceptual theories of music - rather they questioned the very location of music. Through the visitors encounter with these works, past experiences and memories are reconstructed as new experiences.
Curated by AV Festival.
Supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Japan Foundation.