East meets West: Bunraku, Intermediation and Australian Institutional Conceptions of Interdisciplinarity

Yuji Sone


This essay discusses the notion of ‘intermediated embodiment’ in performance in relation to interdisciplinary and multicultural arts practices in Australia. I will refer to the related policies at the Australia Council, the federal government’s arts funding body. I shall use Bunraku , a Japanese traditional puppet theatre, to demonstrate how intermediated embodiment in performance integrates media effects in a particular way, with relevance for the concept of ‘presence’ in media-based performance work. As a performance artist of Japanese origin in Australia, whose work cuts across and brings together both live and mediatised performance, and is therefore both interdisciplinary and multicultural, I am particularly interested in the reception and institutional treatment of performative forms within culturally specific taxonomies of media. The mapping of interdisciplinary and multicultural arts practices by the Australia Council influences the perceptions of these practices. Such pre-existing structures can limit artists in the way they conceive and develop their works. In the area of multicultural arts, art practices are too often discussed around the issues of identity, language, community and ethnicity.

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