Yuya Tsukahara

Post Punk Performance

“I wish to create something we’ve never seen before, which touches on and deconstructs the frame of ‘performing’ in a playful way.”

Japanese performer, director, and choreographer Yuya Tsukahara is a co-founder, together with dancer Masaru Kakio, of the improvisational performance collective contact Gonzo. Formed in 2006 in Osaka, contact Gonzo developed an improvisational style of physical practice in which fluid movements are accompanied by blows and slaps that resemble physical altercations, thereby blurring the boundaries between violence and trust.

Tsukahara and Kakio describe their approach as “Philosophy of pain, technique of contact,” radically deconstructing the idea of conventional performances. The collective, which currently consists of five members, performs in public space, nature, galleries, museums, theaters, dance festivals, and also stages urban interventions in cities around the world.

Uthis Haemamool and Toshiki Okada, Pratthana: a portrait of possession, 2018. Photo: Takuya Matsumi

Besides performances, contact Gonzo creates and exhibits installations made with video, photography, and zines. Tsukahara additionally works as a solo artist and directs performance programs for festivals. He was the scenographer and choreographer for the theater piece Prathana, which was directed by Toshiki Okada and based on a novel by Uthis Haemamool. Since 2020, he is a co-director of KYOTO EXPERIMENT, an international theater arts festival. Tsukahara also teaches at art schools in Kyoto.

contact Gonzo and YCAM BIO RESEARCH, Wow, see you in the next life. Photo: Yuki Moriya

As a mentor, Tsukahara seeks applicants who are interested in creating performative work, whether they come with a background in dance or theater, or from entirely different artistic disciplines. He intends to explore the very form of performance with potential candidates, considering together the power of improvisation, errors, and failed attempts, and the murky distinctions between humor and play and somber performativity. “Hanging out and playing becomes part of your job,” he says.

“I wish to create something we’ve never seen before, which touches on and deconstructs the frame of ‘performing’ in a playful way. I would like to meet people who want to create a new value set in the performing art scene, something that hasn’t yet been understood as art.”

Watch Yuya Tsukahara’s video statement: