An essay I penned a couple of years ago will help to set the scene to describe the influence Sakevi Yokoyama and G.I.S.M. had on me as a juvenile delinquent.
In essence, Sakevi Yokoyama’s artistic creations have always been absolutely brilliant, cryptic, majestic, ahead of its time and transcending the status quo by experimenting with new media and forms of expression.
Starting out with glue and scissors in the early 1980s, Sakevi channelled what John Heartfield pioneered, i.e. using art as a weapon by not only revolutionizing what was considered possible but by creating photo montages and collages that tell visual stories to launch attacks against propaganda lies and unimaginable horrors they entail.
Conveying powerful pointed messages with his deliberate juxtapositions of images and text fragments no matter if it was related to G.I.S.M. or his other endeavours, it has always been difficult to track down Sakevi’s artistic emissions outside the confines of Japan.
Suddenly, around the beginning of 2020 and seemingly out of the blue, a website emerged under the aegis of the well-known Beast Arts logo, offering not only garments, but also a catalogue raisonné, which was announced to be released, i.e. Oppressive liberation spirit Volume 1 .
Expectations were quite high and anticipation was strong, as anything Sakevi has touched was yet to disappoint -- plus the presentation of literally all of Beast Arts’ previous releases was next level as they were packaged in the most unique and elaborate ways, to the extent where the packaging became a major component contributing to making the whole much more than the mere sum of its individual parts.
However, the question was if Sakevi’s often intricately detailed artworks could be done justice to in book form, especially since some of his original art came with special overlays and other features that a mere depiction would be difficult to convey the subtleties of.
Upon unwrapping Oppressive liberation spirit Volume 1 and going through the first couple of pages, expectations were exceeded as it became instantaneously obvious that the tome was not merely a compilation, but an expertly curated and thought through exercise in showcasing Sakevi’s art from the last forty years.
This opulently illustrated book will not only appeal to initiated G.I.S.M. aficionados, but to anyone interested in collage and art at large as it not only shows how advanced Sakevi’s approach was already in the 1980s but sheds light on how it evolved over time. It is astonishing that those early emissions were not only created long before the use of Photoshop was de rigueur, but before even the use of computers became commonplace.
Flyers from early shows are depicted next to the original artworks from G.I.S.M.’s genre-coining releases with specifically the fantastic “Military Affairs Neurotic” LP being portrayed with a feature that comes close to the original release.
I will not spoil it for you.
If you have had the pleasure of experiencing the G.I.S.M. mind-blowing home video Subj & Egos, Chopped from the early 1990s, you would know the unique atmosphere that Sakevi created by intermeshing live footage with slow-motion images and backstage shots to give a faint idea of the intensity and violence that ensued during G.I.S.M.’s live incarnations, accompanied by haunting industrial soundscapes.
In many ways, Oppressive liberation spirit Volume 1 is the equivalent to Subj & Egos, Chopped in book form as it takes you on a journey with carefully orchestrated ebbs and flows not only through the history of Sakevi and his incarnations, but our world and the direction it is headed in at large.
The beauty is that the book is devoid of accompanying text yet does not lack a mesmerising narrative, which is accentuated by the ambience that is created - in a sense, it is cinematic.
In addition to artwork documenting the history and evolution of G.I.S.M., things get interesting when it comes to Sakevi’s sophisticated solo efforts, specifically his often macabre takes on 9/11, the New World Order, his worldview and his interpretations and musings on phenomena and foibles of our times.
A trove of freely mixed media, references, periods and ideas, including sections dedicated to Sakevi’s fashion line, some of which one could find in the most limited editions in high-end boutiques in Tokyo:
stlTH saw Sakevi branch out to not only creating merchandise and artwork as it was known, but collaborating with brands like Jun Takakashi’s ingenious cult streetwear entity Undercover, which to some extent was almost like a Trojan horse and a new way for Sakevi’s subversive art to infiltrate the world of Hypebeast couture through the back door.
Oppressive liberation spirit Volume 1 studiously documents the mind-blowing creative universe of Sakevi Yokoyama, the description of which in mere words would be reductive and not really encapsulate the entrancing breadth of the experience the book offers.
I understand that a few copies of the limited-edition book are still available.
While being comprehensive and offering a glimpse into Sakevi’s imagination and wit, the exhaustive visual documentation leaves one lusting for more and one can only hope that there will be further volumes following.
God in the schizoid mind.
9.0 / 10
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