Money, Trains, and Guillotines
Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan
Duke University Press 2013
Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei was prosecuted in the 1960s for producing work that imitated money. His single-sided, monochrome prints of the 1,000 yen note generated a wide-ranging set of debates over the nature of obscenity, the definition of counterfeiting, and the freedom of artists amid significant transformations in Japanese state, society, and politics. In Money, Trains, and Guillotines: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan (Duke University Press, 2013), William Marotti situates Akasegawa’s work within an ecology of the everyday in a wonderfully transdisciplinary study of avant-garde artistic production in postwar Japan. Marotti’s narrative combines close readings of literary, visual, and performative works with a careful political history of Occupation Japan, opening up a conversation about the politics of art in the global 1960s. Readers will find fascinating examples of experimental artistic production in these pages, in media ranging from collages to exhibitions to train trips to musical improvisations to waste materials of various sorts, and including the guillotines of the book’s title. Also included are explorations of the changing figure of the emperor in 1960s Japan and conversations about quarantine and scientific observation of the everyday world. Enjoy!