Watch out for falling suitcases!

Edited by Shigeko Kubota, HI RED CENTER. [New York], 1965.
Broadsheet, 22"h x 16 ¾"w, uncolored

A fantastic cartographic poster documenting the activities of the Tokyo-based art collective Hi Red Center.

Hi Red Center was a short-lived art and performance art collective active in 1963-64. It took its name from the meanings of the initial kanji of the surnames of founders Jiro Takamatsu (1936-1998), Genpei Akasegawa (1937-2014) and Natsuyuki Nakanishi (b. 1935)-“taka” (high), “aka” (red) and “naka” (center).

“Hi Red Center took to the streets and executed a myriad of Happenings throughout Tokyo. The collective disavowed commercial tactics and sought to inject art into the urban infrastructure. Whether it be painting all the toilet seats red at Waseda University (Waseda University Event. 1963) or cleaning the streets of Tokyo in ironic defiance of the 1964 Olympic Games (Street Cleaning Event. 1964), the collective’s anti-institutional gestures made art out of the stuff of everyday life.” (Jordan Carter, “Exhibiting Fluxus: Mapping Hi Red Center in Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde.” Post on the Inside/Out blog of MoMA/MoMA PS1.)

As indicated above, Hi Red Center was philosophically aligned and personally collected with Fluxus, an international art and performance art collective founded (or “coalesced?”) by George Maciunas (1931-1978) and including Yoko Ono among its collaborators. The map was compiled when Shigeko Kubota, a member of the Tokyo avant-garde, traveled to New York to join Fluxus and sought to familiarize westerners with the program and activities of Hi Red Center.

The image consists of a map of central Tokyo, upon which are superimposed the sites and descriptions of twenty Hi Red Center performance actions. Here are a few examples:

“15 Aug. 1963[.] Dinner party on the anniversary of non-V Day at Citizen’s Hall. A great and delicious meal was eaten energetically by performers while audience observed. At midnight Kazakura branded his chest with hot iron.”

“12 June 1964[.] The Great Panorama show at Naiqua. The Gallery stayed closed for 5 days. After 5 days a cockroach was released from a bottle kept there.”

“10 Oct. 1964[.] Roof event on the roof of Ikenobo building. Books, pants, shirts, shoes, full trunk etc. were dropped from roof to street. Afterwards the smashed trunk was kept in the baggage room of Ochanomizu railroad station.”

The title is given in bold block lettering across the left center, upon which the names of five performers have been superimposed. On the verso more than thirty photographs provide documentary evidence of the Tokyo events.

The map was published in multiple formats, including an edition in which the map was issued crumpled, bound with twine and labeled “Bundle of Events.”

OCLC 57759618 (Museum of Modern Art, Northwestern, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis).


One edge trimmed (possibly as issued), with extremely slight loss to image on verso