previous arrow
next arrow


Heidrun Holzfeind

27 October - 3 December 2023
12:00-19:00 *Open Fri. Sat. Sun.

27 OCT - 03 DEC 2023

Soft opening: 12:00-19:00, Friday, October 27, 2023
Talk and Discussion with Former Black Helmet Group Members: 18:30, Monday, October 30, 2023

Book Sale from Prison: 12:30-18:30 on the final weekend, December 2-3, 2023
Throughout the period of rapid economic growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Japanese archipelago experienced a state of turmoil triggered by a series of resistance movements spearheaded by workers, students, and ordinary citizens. These movements took place behind the backdrop of glamorous events such as the first Tokyo Olympics and Osaka Expo. The authorities were determined to quell these protest movements, resorting to ruthless crackdown on dissidents. Even though the intense disputes may seem to have subsided, this period still quietly but certainly reverberates in our lives today. What insight can we glean from the viewpoints, writings, and actions of the activists of the era, who sought to transform society by deploying the radical theory of propaganda struggle —including the actual bombing as the ultimate tool to question established power structures?

Heidrun Holzfeind ’s work centers on the effect of architecture and power relations in urban landscapes on society and personal identity, exploring the interrelations between individual histories and political narratives. Her latest work News From K (2023-), is an experimental video sketch in progress, where she examines urban landscapes as well as the writings of anarchist activist Toshihiko Kamata, who was said to have led the Black Helmet Group which formed around him in 1971. After the violent suppression of the student movement in Tokyo and the failure of the opposition to the Japanese-American security pact, this radical leftist group resorted to a bomb struggle as a propaganda tool against state power and Japan's involvement in the Vietnam War. After several bombings of police stations in Tokyo, and the US military communication station in Sendai, the ‘Christmas Tree Bomb’ exploded at the Oiwake police station box in Shinjuku. Kamata was arrested in 1980 and is currently serving a life sentence.

Kamata’s letters from prison link his militant past to his present life behind bars, with critical observations of the sociopolitical conditions both within and beyond the prison walls and the national borders. In this film, fragments of his poetic and philosophical reflections spanning the five decades since the bombing - eight years on the run and more than 40 years inside the wall - resonate in the landscapes and locations where Kamata lived and spent time during his struggle in Tokyo, Yamaguchi, Miyagi, and Akita.

Within the frame of "landscapes as a power device" (*1), in which the power structure of the state and capital is discerned in the details of ordinary, unremarkable scenery, the film captures not only the remnants of the former radical activists but also anonymous citizens and laborers. It observes individuals such as road constructors preparing for work, an elder man cleaning a parking lot early in the morning unnoticed but under the security cameras, and even police officers patrolling on white bicycles. These sceneries reveal the presence of unnamed individuals who remain hidden unless one takes a moment to pause amid the city’s hustle and bustle. These landscapes serve as a lens into socioeconomic structures of an aging society, growing social disparities, increasing surveillance, the ever-present state authority, and silent acts of resistance. From this vantage point, this work revisits the landscape theory developed by filmmakers and photographers in the 1960s and 1970s, as exemplified by A.K.A. Serial Killer (*2) through the eyes of an outsider.

The exhibition also features corresponding materials including trial documents, written records of support from civic activists, maps that trace Kamata’s footsteps during his struggles and a small fraction of books that he has read in prison over the years. This exhibition delves beyond the aftermath of the bombings, exploring the convoluted past that led the assailant to resort to such extremes and casting doubt on the efficacy of the current legal system. All of these subjects provoke conjecture about the potential for citizens to engage with society. The exhibition space is envisioned as a platform for reflection and debate about the prospects for social change.

*1 Masao Matsuda, Fukei no Shimetsu (The extinction of Landscape), Tabata Shoten, 1971.
*2 Masao Adachi, A.K.A. Serial Killer, 86 min., finished in 1969, released in 1975. In collaboration with directors Kōji Wakamatsu and Nagisa Ōshima, screenwriter Mamoru Sasaki, and critic Matsuda Masao.

Heidrun Holzfeind (b.1972)
Studied art history at the University of Vienna and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna as well as Cooper Union in New York; currently based in Berlin. Holzfeind’s interest in modernist architecture and the function of social utopia inherent in society has led her to explore the relationship between history and identity, personal narratives and political narratives through video, photography, installations and artist books. She has been invited to exhibitions and screenings at museums and festivals around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Museum of Modern Art (Mumok) and Secession in Vienna, and the Istanbul Biennial. She has received high acclaim in Austria and elsewhere, including the Camera Austria Prize and the Austrian Arts Council Outstanding Artist Award.

Related Events
Soft Opening
A soft opening will be held with the artist present.
Date and time: Friday, October 27, 2023, 12:00-19:00
Venue: Asakusa

Talk and discussion with former Black Helmet Group members
The event invites former members of the Black Helmet Group to discuss the Christmas Tree Bombing Incident and their activities and philosophies that led up to it. To participate, please email with 1) your full name, 2) email address, and 3) telephone number.

Date and time: October 30, 2023 (Monday) 18:30-20:30
Venue: Mokei no Oukoku (Model Kingdom), 1-6-17, Nishiasakusa, Taito, Tokyo, 111-0035
* Please assemble at the venue at 18:15.
** ASAKUSA opens on the day of the event from 16:00-18:00.

Books from Prison
While the internal conditions of Japanese prisons remain largely obscure, one can ask what makes the significance of reading in prison. On the last day of the exhibition, there will be a used book fair making Mr. Kamata's books available to the public. Selecting a book from Mr. Kamata's collection, who is known as an avid reader, will provide you with an opportunity to contemplate this question.

Date and time: Saturday, December 2 and Sunday, December 3, 2023. 12:30-18:30
Venue: Asakusa
Organizer: “Sobo” Editorial Team

Heidrun Holzfeind: News from K.
27 October - 3 December, 2023
12:00-19:00 *Open Fri. Sat. Sun.
ASAKUSA, 1-6-16 Nishiasakusa, Taito, Tokyo, 111-0035
In Collaboration with: Toshihiko Kamata, Makiko Watanuki, Koyo Yamashita, Norie Fukuda
Special Thanks: Gamze Baktir
Supported by: Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture), Federal Ministry for Art and Culture Austria, Female Artist Grant of the Senate of Berlin
arts council tokyo

Heidrun Holzfeind

© 2015–2024 ASAKUSA Built by SPoN!