Kihako Narisawa



FIGURATIVE ー is a project which is representative of a system, that constitutes questions which address the disparity between idea and word, language and artistic expression.

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. (…) The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
— Genesis 11:1, 6-8

I would like to investigate how cultural systems push us to make choices between verbal and non-verbal communication, with an emphasis on how proxemics — our human use of space and the distance between human bodies — is disrupted by cultural codes and norms. With interdisciplinary collaborators who are living abroad in the European performing art community, we aim to understand what are the various challenges of translating the language of practice into the language of words. The collaborators and I share a mutual appreciation for experimental performative works that bend and challenge genre. We strive to develop work that reflects this ideal through connecting and collaborating with artists from various avenues of creativity. Allows the possibility for new influence and exchange to direct the creative process experience.



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My choreographies are inspired by the American anthropologist Edward T. Hall who wrote extensively on cross-cultural communication and the anthropology of space. For example, in my piece Room 49 (2013) at Staatstheater Wiesbaden, I was interested in the way people react to change in their physical and psychological environments. In Room 49, three dancers, three musicians, and three light installations produce a series of abstract studies on the fragile dynamics between the environment, space, and the individual. In another piece P.S. (2015) premiered at Theater Basel, I drew upon Hall’s theory of Personal Space from his book The Hidden Dimension. Using three allegorical characters, The Audience, The Dummy, and The Speaker, P.S. exposes both the spatial and social conditions that are necessary to the culture of theatre and performance.



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My current research and choreographic experimentation focusses on Edward T. Hall’s theory of proxemics, which is the study of physical space between people and the effect of population density on behaviour, communication, and social interaction. According to Hall, proxemics constitutes a category in the larger field of nonverbal communication, which also comprises haptics (touch), kinesics (body movement), vocalics (paralanguage), and chronemics (structure of time). Proxemics remains a hidden component of interpersonal communication that is uncovered through observation and strongly influenced by culture.




FIGURATIVE #0     P.S. (premiere and performances in Basel /Switzerland, performances in Frankfurt and Gießen/DE)

FIGURATIVE #1     Have I ever spoken properly? (art video)

FIGURATIVE #2     Why do I do this? (extracted solo from “into the why”)

FIGURATIVE #3     into the why (art video)

FIGURATIVE #3.1  into the why (performances in Catanzaro/IT and London/UK)

FIGURATIVE #3.2  into the why (extended version presentation in Basel/CH, premiere in Offenbach/DE)

FIGURATIVE #4     Replicants (research and workshop in Basel/CH)

FIGURATIVE #5     within arm's length (premiere in Gießen/DE)

FIGURATIVE #6     untitled (premiere in Montreal/CA)

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