May 24 - July 13, 2002
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

The second NOIRMONT PROSPECT exhibition was dedicated to the Japanese artist Noritoshi Hirakawa who will unveil his whole project Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier (Seasons of Nothing in Montpellier) – 11 videos and 24 photographs - from 24th May to 13th July.

Born in 1960 in Fukuola, Noritoshi Hirakawa has lived and worked in New York since 1993. A multi-facet artist, he does not restrict himself solely to a rich, abundant photographic output, he invests talent in various areas of style: choreography, literature and drama.

Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier is a demanding, ambitious project. Noritoshi Hirakawa’s work is at a crossroads and at the forefront of the most innovative disciplines of our time: dance, video arts and photography.

The project was conceived originally for the “Montpellier Dance ‘01” festival of contemporary dance, and consists of a set of 11 videos and 24 photographs. In the setting of the festival, only the videos have been shown with simultaneous, side by side, projection on five screens, at the Aldébaran Création Contemporaine hall. NOIRMONT PROSPECT backed this scale of achievement and thereby facilitated its presentation.


Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier is an opus made in cooperation with the Montpellier choreographer Didier Théron, who literally put each of Noritoshi Hirakawa’s 11 scripts into “motion and space”. Trained by Dominique Bagouet and Merce Cunningham, Didier Théron’s choreographic creations are always at the same limit of balance and defiance, placing his dancers as much in the vertical as in the horizontal. He refuses the pitfalls of a stiff contemporary dance or pure “entertainment”.

Above all, dance is the art of space, time, movement and the body. One of the great successes of Noritoshi Hirakawa and Didier Théron is knowing how to occupy the choreographic space in an original way. Indeed, one of the major problems of modern dance is the relationship between the space to be occupied - circumscribed to a place (the stage) and to one moment (the performance) - and the audience set opposite to it. By abolishing the "classic" stage, incorporating the choreographies in a free and infinite space and by choosing to present a "recorded" version, Noritoshi Hirakawa is toying with these essential principles. So there is no tie here with theatrical time that has an unavoidable beginning and an inevitable end. While offering an open environment (Montpellier) and an infinite time (the 11 movies run in a loop), it is then rather more about a presentation than a representation.

In order to give strength to the project, Noritoshi Hirakawa and Didier Théron auditioned, in Montpellier and Paris, close to one hundred dancers before choosing only seven, two men and five women. The dancers were evidently chosen for their talent as well as for their capacity to improvise and their ability to integrate fully into the project.

Through concern for truth, every dancer wears their every day clothes and the required movements are those of "true life". Even though it is about a choreographic project, all is conceived as a faithful transcript of reality: the movements "danced" emphasise with the body what the mind feels. Indeed, our gestures and attitudes betray our unconscious and often contradict our words. Here, the body wants to impose itself, eroticism exposes itself; life by nature is an excess. If cultural pressure inhibits the body, then it is about making it speak, if it controls behaviour, to show the subjectivity. In choosing recorded video, Noritoshi Hirakawa unleashes the free movement of the dancers: they are no longer conscious of being watched (contrary to the stage) and therefore act with more liberty, sincerity and innocence.


The 11 videos of Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier (edition of 5, in a perfect DVD production) were presented at NOIRMONT PROSPECT in their entirety on just one screen. Each of the 11 short stories (3 to 15 minutes each, total length about 1 hour 50 minutes) is a fully-fledged, independent movie, sometimes linked to the other movies by a character or a place. The actor-dancers are directed in various public places in Montpellier (Promenade du Peyrou, the Charles de Gaulle esplanade, the Fabre Museum, etc.) or in private (apartment, office, etc.) and they must cope, in daily life situations, with events that, while being ordinary, break up the monotony of their existence.

There is something of Eric Rohmer or Tsai Ming-Liang in Noritoshi Hirakawa’s movies: the graceful way of playing with time, the waiting and the desire, the relentless will set against becoming attached to small things, to all of these " mere little nothings", those primarily insignificant events that go to make our everyday life. The young protagonists in the works seem to be in a period of mental and spiritual frailty, carried along by events that they experience more than cause. In the most utter expectation, they wait for a sign of the future, a puff of releasing air that would push them to continue and not lose grip (the heroine´s disorganized and illusory waiting for Un Jour, the disillusioned solitude of the characters of La Dune…). Noritoshi Hirakawa thus presents the other side of the Montpellier scene, without happy moments, nor pleasure or abandon. The contrast between the sun and southern softness, the light clothes, the ubiquity of studying youth, the blinding light, and the spleen emanating from characters is striking for more than one reason but is also translated as a source to awaken sensuality.

"I produce some works on the assumption that it is about the best means to make my experience of the world public and to make an area of suggestion out of it". Noritoshi Hirakawa is profoundly influenced by his Japanese cultural heritage: un-said and repressed, an ideal of order and cleanliness. The photographs and videos presented here are the fruit of an offbeat, critical look at the social and cultural behaviour of his compatriots. For example, in Japanese society, it is seen very badly when young people show signs of desire, especially sexual, outside the sphere of the familiar. Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier questions us about the possibility of exceeding these limits - while putting the spectator in seemingly insignificant situations yet which really hide the disallowed infringements and reveal the socially forbidden (in Le Vélo a girl makes love with a stranger, in Le Café, a young man dares to make suggestive gestures…). In exposing intimate experimental scenes in the public arena, the artist thus breaks the sterilized Japanese ideal and combines the obvious innocence of his protagonists with even the blemish of sex (in all his movies, sex and furtive desire are ever present, as are bodily secretions…)


In parallel to the projection of the 11 short stories that constitute the filmed and choreographed part of the Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier, Noritoshi Hirakawa will also unveil a set of 24 eponymous photographs.

Here it is not about plain photographs or pictures stolen from the movie, but of real fully-fledged works. It is an independent work created as an equal to the filmed work in which he recreates the atmosphere. Capturing the very essence of the videos, in these pictures he shows a diffuse sensuality where the grace of movement and the melancholy of the moment are almost palpable, irradiated with light so special to Montpellier, at the same time white and intense.

Following the same narrative process as the videos, the photographs, once out of the context of the films, erupt as many enigmas: What happens to this woman beside the road (La Dune II)? Who are the two bodies half buried on the river bank (Le Poète III)? And that couple in the grass - do we help at a scene of violence or at a scene of love (Le Vélo III)? Taken from only 10 copies and presented in a Plexiglas box, it is about little jewels that won´t fail to intrigue and satisfy the lovers of pure and demanding photography, far from some artifice of easy "decorative" charm.

While choosing to write his creations in the present and remain close to our concerns, Noritoshi Hirakawa proves that cross fertilisation between the arts is a concrete and exciting reality! With Les Temps de Rien à Montpellier, his first exhibition of videos, NOIRMONT PROSPECT invites you to take part in this daring experiment.