Two Inadequate Voices


2IV is a platform for image-makers to recount and reflect textually on their stories of being out in the world whilst photographing.

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Nuno Moreira
Yoshito Ohno

I was floored to find out that the great Japanese dancer Yoshito Ohno had passed away on January 8th, 2020.  I had the privilege of spending a memorable afternoon with this utterly kind man nine years prior, more precisely, in the summer of 2011. It was one of the most touching experiences of my life. Yoshito greeted me – by all means a perfect stranger – at his home, showing me the studio where he and his father Kazuo Ohno rehearsed for several decades and taught Butoh to students from Japan and all over the world. The story of meeting Yoshito is part of a larger picture of my life and Butoh is perhaps one of the catalysts for me to travel to Japan just after the big earthquake of 2011. That trip ended up changing many aspects of my life but before going, I knew all along I wanted to pay a visit to Mr. Ohno and listen in first-hand about his father and what Butoh represented to the people who started this art/dance movement in the beginning of the 60s. I’m not going to delve into explaining what Butoh is because there’s enough information out there but I am going to share what I wrote in my diary that day and represents best the immediate impression I had of Yoshito, being this, my small gesture of appreciation and remembrance for his time and grace.

From my diary:

"12/09/11, KODS – Kazuho Ohno Dance Studios, Yokohama.

I just had the most sincere and humbling experience of my life with Kazuho Ohno’s son, Yoshito. He received me in his home, gave me some slippers to put on, and right away showed me the studio where he taught classes and rehearsed. It was a small place with a big mirror running on one side and on the opposite wall there were books piled up. He showed me some books and photos while we talked about his recent shows and the relationship of his father with Hijikata. He had fond memories of both. He showed me lots of pictures, memorabilia and finally danced for me in silence for a while; I took photos and realized this was a unique moment. After the small performance, he asked for my home address and we took a picture together. As a gift, he gave me a book about his fathers’ farewell performance. I felt moved by it all. Afterwards, we went inside the house and into his room and we sat to have a beer together. We looked in each others’ eyes attentively for a while. We talked about Butoh (in Japan and how it expanded into Europe) but mostly we just sat, ate crackers and shared common silence. He told me I gave him renewed energies for his next performance. I felt him truly there - present. A very spiritual and inspiring person. Yoshito told me he was worried about Japan and his family after the situation with the quake. I wished him and Japan all the best. It depends on us all, right? We understood each other with very little English and my insignificant knowledge of Japanese. I firmly shook his hand and thanked him and then left towards the railway station. A true human being. I feel grateful and overjoyed. Crying. Learned and will remember this is what matters."

I think about Yoshito often.

Nuno Moreira is a Portuguese artist who studied Cinema, specializing in editorial design and focusing primarily on books. Using photography as his main form of inquiry, he explores the role of darkness and mystery as well as the confines of the body through careful staging of both objects and bodies. The latest works have taken the form of artist books and are present in public and private collections, most notably, State of Mind (2013), ZONA (2015), She Looks into Me (2018) and ERRATA (2020).