Kaiju Big Battel
Kaiju Big Battel
Live Monster Wrestling, 1997-2001
In graduate school, I co-founded Kaiju Big Battel, an intentionally misspelled performance & media collective who staged live monster wrestling events, featuring performers dressed in foam & latex suits inspired by Japanese tokusatsu films/TV: Godzilla, Ultraman, etc. We enacted epic narratives in a wrestling ring cityscape populated with miniature buildings and vehicles. Performances were staged in Boston, New York, and other locations. Our large-scale events took 20-30 personnel to run; we also produced & sold videos, trading cards, miniatures, and other related media. I continued actively working with Kaiju until 2001; the group relocated to New York and is still active, recently engaged in a 20th Anniversary Tour.
My Studio Kaiju colleagues and I created a very interesting hybrid practice: a montage of disparate popular culture elements glued together by a healthy sense of the absurd, culture shock, and language play. We made an impact in an underground pop culture world - we received a great deal of press, partnered with successful bands, were featured on TV, and I recently discovered that Kaiju was the inspiration for the character of Fred in the 2014 DIsney movie Big Hero 6: "Fred's supersuit eluded us until we found a group called Kaiju Big Battel." - Don Hall, Big Hero 6 director.
However, the more important reason to mention Kaiju is that it was the first of my large-scale collaborative projects, in which I worked with a team of people to execute something greater than I might have been capable alone. Throughout my career, I have worked in several such collaborative groups, from 2-20 people, some of which have included people involved in Kaiju: projects such as U-SOUND UN-HAUL (1998), Participatory Democracy (2004), ART SHOW DOWN (2006), Land O'Lactation (2007), and CUBED (2013). Kaiju was an excellent model for a successful collaboration - if you can keep a team of wrestling monsters organized, happy, and on schedule, anything is possible.