the time is now.
the time is now. is one of two films by Holzfeind about the Japanese shamanic improvisation duo IRO. The couple Shizuko and Toshio Orimo have worked together since 1981. Their music, their activism in the peace and anti-nuclear movement, and their free-spirited way of life reflect an animist and pantheistic worldview that rejects commercialism in all its forms.
The film shows performances of the duo in various locations in the Inter-University Seminar House in Hachioji, Tokyo. The unique modernist complex—whose main building has the shape of a pyramid turned upside down—was designed in 1964 by the Japanese architect and thinker Takamasa Yosizaka (1917–80). Yosizaka’s ideas about the relationship between humans, nature and architecture, individuality and community, sustainability and peace, as well as his critique of Western civilization in many respects concur with the musicians’ worldview. Holzfeind stages Yosizaka’s extraordinary architecture as a set for IRO’s performances, which combine improvisation on Noh and stone flutes, fan drum and kagura bells with their unique punk kagura version of ancient Shinto rituals, indigenous ceremonies and Korean mask theater.
In steady takes and rhythmic cuts, Holzfeind’s film plays with the contrasts and interactions between the brutalist architecture, the surrounding nature, and the musicians’ performance and instruments. Like the recurring motif of the eye, Holzfeind’s colour filters and tinted shots refer to the film Phantom by Japanese experimental filmmaker Toshio Matsumoto (1932–2017). The soundtrack interweaves the instrumental sounds with Shizuko’s chants and the sounds of nature and civilization. At times, it feels like the cicadas and crickets are in dialogue with IRO’s instruments. —Heidrun Holzfeind