Zero Dimension/ Kato Yoshihiro

Kato Yoshihiro b. 1936. Lives and works in Nagoya. Zero Dimension showed unprecedented performances under the slogan of ‘bringing a human being back to zero’ from 1963 to 1972. First appearing in front of the International Hotel Nagoya in 1963, the artist group Zero Dimension produced performances such as streaking in Shinjuku while wearing a gas mask or an all-nude man and woman tied up with a rope walking around the subway train in Tokyo. Zero Dimension values the polarity of the sacred and the secular found in traditional religious rituals, and combines their performance art with ‘rituals.’ Due to their taboo-breaking actions, the artist group was often neglected in the history of art, but Zero Dimension is now newly receiving attention both in Japan and abroad.

Zero Dimension Ritual?Cybele, 1968
Photography, 24.5× 30 cm
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Courtesy the artist
An avant-garde artist group led by Kato Yoshihiro and Iwata Shinichi, Zero Dimension made their debut on the streets of Nagoya in 1963. After Kato moved to Tokyo, the group presented performances called “rituals” mainly in Ginza, Shinjuku and Shibuya. After 1965, the group moved the center of their activities from galleries and museums onto the streets. Also, Zero Dimension expanded their working area into popular spaces like theater, entertainment, stages, parks and clubs. Most of their “art terrorism”?in which men in kitschy costumes or all-nude men with props attached to their bodies marched on the street?led to collaborative struggles with well-known underground artists such as Akiyama Yutokutaishi, Dadakan, Kanesaka Kenji, and Suenaga Tamio of Kokuin and Koyama Tetzuo of Vitamin Art. Such activities marked a climax in 1970 when they organized the anti-Expo alliance to crush up the Osaka Exposition. While many avant-garde artists gave up confrontation with capitalism and were agitated by the Expo, Zero Dimension continued their “rituals” at many local universities and Expo venues in association with Zenkyoto (A Student-body Struggle Committee, 1968?1969). They quickly figured out that an international exposition was playing a leading role in the emergence of a turbulent society where even art is easily consumed and recalled along with high economic growth, and they fought in order to crush up the changes with their own bodies. Much can be learned from their fight. The White Rabbit of Inaba (1970) is a documentary film that captured the activities of the anti-Expo alliance and at the same time described how Zero Dimension struggled while they insisted on one-off expressions in order to reject capitalism from the 1960s to the early 1970s. Oe Masanori’s freewheeling camera work succeeds in capturing the moment that each space was liberated by the artist group. Later, Kato went to India and New York. Currently, he is back in Japan holding film screenings and exhibitions.
[Ko Hirasawa, “White Rabbit of Inaba,” Cinema=Movement /Revolution, Cinematheque Culture School Seoul, 2005]