News / Events
Tabaimo with Hiroshi Sugimoto's Bunraku Puppet Theater
September - October 2013

James Cohan Gallery is pleased to announce a collaboration between Tabaimo and renowned contemporary artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. Sugimoto will direct productions of the Japanese bunraku puppet theater play “The Love Suicides at Sonezaki” in Madrid, Rome, and Paris in September and October, 2013.  Tabaimo has collaborated on the accompanying video installations.


Following a first run at the Kanagawa Arts Theater (KAAT) in March 2011, “Love Suicides” will travel this fall to the Teatro Espanol in Madrid (September 27 and 28), the Teatro Argentina in Rome (October 4 and 5), and the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris (October 10—19).


Written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon in 1703, “The Love Suicides at Sonezaki” tells the story of a young clerk and his courtesan lover who both end up killing themselves after realizing that their relationship is doomed because of a debt that he incurs after refusing to go ahead with an arranged marriage to another woman. Banned during the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1732 after sparking a string of copycat suicides, the play languished unperformed until 1955, with many of the original scripts and instructions lost in the interim.


“The basic narrative of this play is revolves around a kind of sentiment that Western audiences are probably not very familiar with,” explained Sugimoto. “Of course, in Shakespeare’s play, both Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, but that was more the result of a misunderstanding. In contrast, you might say that the Sonezaki tale is an exposition of the Japanese, or Buddhist, spirit of eros — the two lovers consummate their affair by commiting a double suicide because they believe that their souls will thereby be ushered into a paradise in the afterlife.”


The play’s unique history has left it open to Sugimoto’s contemporary interpretation, which takes many formal liberties with its staging. The production will feature a team of performers headed by veteran puppet master Kanjuro Kiritake III, original music by Seiji Tsuruzawa, choreography by Waka Yamamura, and a haunting video installation projected live onstage by Tabaimo.