Yes, TAIHEN is a troupe of physically disabled performers, but we refuse to be categorized as "disabled art" and say "no, thank you" to the special seat of "outsider art".
Inside the mainstream, our activity contributes to the innovation of performing arts. We think special treatment as "disabled people" is ghettoization.
Especially for TAIHEN, to innovate in the arts means to overturn the framework of arts themselves, because the framework belongs to the non-disabled civilization which promotes the eugenic ideology to eliminate the disabled.
In the performing arts, today, the beautiful body and more highly trained, quicker and higher movement is considered more valuable. On the other hand, bodies and movements regarded as distorted and ungainly have been forced to play a certain role -- typically deformity, monstrosity or comic figure-- by the one sided idea of the non-disabled.
So, such efforts to overcome disablity and
to meet the expectations of the non-disabled can never allow an
honorable future for the disabled.
This is the reason why TAIHEN aims at the radical innovation of frameworks, basic ideas, world views and aesthetics.
TAIHEN has presented several performances
with an anti-eugenic concept, using speech. But we do not use this
style now. We are polishing a new style in which we extract
expression generated from the disabled body and movement itself to
free the audience's imagination.
TAIHEN is trying to produce works that reject the standardizing of human beings and show the rich value of diversity.
Thus, the style of expression created by TAIHEN(Manri KIM) is original and innovative, and also is a truly radical opposition to the eugenic ideology.
Challenging the framework of the performing arts will allow opportunities for artistic participation to those who have been excluded.
However, we are not content to dabble at an elementary artistic level in order to allow participation. Those who have been an excluded from cultural activities, given the opprtunity, can possess a richness of expression and can emerge as innovative artists.
These artists will push artistic frontiers forward, and will at the same time enlarge the fronties of their own lives. Taihen aims to foster such development.
For disabled performers, assistance which is needed in everyday life is also needed during creation and performance. It is indispensable for technical and support staff to be involved in the performers' daily lives and to know their points of view. Thus, an enlightened community is formed through the creation of stage performance.
Here in Japan, the relationship between the disabled and the non-disabled exists in only two extreme patterns. One extreme is a form of paternalism in which the non-disabled give their support from on high. The other extreme is to place the disabled on a pedestal, as somehow sainted or holy.
Thus it has been difficult in Japan to build a truly equal partnership as that needed working together for the creation of a performance. The style of TAIHEN's activities suggests a model of how to build a new community. In this sense, TAIHEN's activities go beyond the framework of mere stage creation.