Takeshi Kitano, Japan, 1993


This sequence breaks down into three parts.

In the first, the three men play, just as children would, on a simple stage that they’ve made, tapping it to move the cardboard figures in mock combat.

In the second part they draw a ring in the sand using seaweed to recreate a sumo fighter’s space. They then come face to face with each other in the space, miming the rituals of Sumo wrestling.

In the third part we loose the sense of reality in their play when the two ‘organisers’ place their fighters in the circle, replacing the cardboard models with real, yet inert humans. The organisers then beat the ground at the edge of the circle to move the fighters, much like with their cardboard counterparts, the beats bringing them to life and animating their movements. The fighters are totally incapable of any control over their movements or gestures and have to follow the beats played out by their partners.

From the first to the third part Kitano explores a very poetic change of scale, we move from a small, reduced model to a much larger version by way of the same game.  The game pieces have become humans made real. The effect is both comic and unsettling.