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(photo © Odawara Art Foundation)

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Rikyu-Enoura makes its world premiere this weekend at Japan Society (photo © Odawara Art Foundation)

Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
November 3-5, $95

In 2011 and 2014, Japan Society awarded grants to Japanese multidisciplinary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto for his ambitious Odawara Art Foundation, which is now open to the public and features indoor and outdoor stages for noh and bunraku productions, a large gallery, a tearoom, astronomical observation spaces, and more. Sugimoto, who is based in Tokyo and New York City, will now be presenting the first fruits of that collaboration with several special programs at Japan Society, beginning with the exhibition “Gates of Paradise” (through January 7), the noh play Rikyu-Enoura (November 3-5), and the lecture and book signing “Architecture of Time: Enoura Observatory, Where Consciousness & Memory Originate” (December 15). For more than forty years, photographer, sculptor, architect, and historian Sugimoto has explored history and science, the past and the future, time and memory while blurring the lines between fiction and reality. He has photographed dioramas at natural history museums (“Still Life”), captured electrical discharges on photographic dry plates (“Lightning Fields”), focused on the horizon line across the ocean (“Seascapes”), shot wax figures to look like paintings (“Portraits”), used long exposures to reveal the blinding soul of movie palaces (“Theaters”), and turned one thousand gilded wooden Buddha statues at Sanjῡsangen-dō (Hall of Thirty-Three Bays) in Kyoto into a dizzying film (Sea of Buddha). He also curated the expansive and wide-ranging “History of History” in 2005-6 at Japan Society and designed the set and costumes for Sanbaso, divine dance, an ancient celebratory ritual dance with noh performers in the Guggenheim Rotunda in 2013. So Sugimoto was a logical go-to choice when Japan Society was putting together its “NOH NOW” series as part of its 110th anniversary. Sugimoto will be staging the world premiere of Rikyu-Enoura, about sixteenth-century tea master Sen-no-Rikyu, featuring a libretto by traditional-style poet Akiko Baba; a tea ceremony by Sen So’oku (a direct descendant of Sen-no-Rikyu); noh actors Kanze Tetsunojo and Katayama Kurouemon; noh musician Kamei Hirotada; and more. Each show will be preceded by a lecture by Wesleyan University assistant professor Dr. Takeshi Watanabe one hour before curtain.

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