Alongside a campaign for Comme des Garçons, artist Kazumi Kurigami memorably filmed Faye Dunaway eating a hard-boiled egg for Japanese store Parco
Bonnie and Clyde actress Faye Dunaway sits in a darkened room, staring intently at the camera. In front of her is a hard-boiled egg, which she slowly picks up, peels, and begins to eat, half smiling from time to time as she continues in her task. Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t a Lynchian interlude in a particularly bizarre episode of Twin Peaks; rather, the surreal, 90-second-long film is an advert for Japanese department store Parco – as directed by photographer and fine artist Kazumi Kurigami.
The film marked the first in a series of many advertisements for the luxury retailer created throughout the 70s and 80s, and though Kurigami has explored the fragile tension of anxiety and human relationships at length throughout the course of his seven decade-long career, it’s his commercial work that’s the most memorable. But then who could forget the image of Dunaway languidly consuming a boiled egg once they’d seen it?
Also lending his face to the charming and increasingly trippy campaign was Gary Numan, who appears in a darkened room (something of a theme throughout) and peers at himself in a hand-held mirror, feigning shock at what he sees reflected back at him. Whether the inclusion of his 1979 hit Cars is a clever case of cross-promotion remains unclear, but what’s notable is the lack of products in each advert. In another from the series, award-winning French actress and former fashion model Dominique Sanda, glistening with sweat, smokes a cigarette without saying a word. Kurigami is renowned for his ability to draw deep feeling from his subjects, as was demonstrated by 2013 Tokyo exhibition Portrait – and when you have raw emotion, who needs to see what it is they’re supposed to be buying? Certainly not Parco’s Japanese customers throughout the 1980s, it would seem.
In another short, three dancers move dynamically – and somewhat uniquely – across the screen in the fourth and final Parco ad, discovered in the depths of YouTube. This time around, the film is created specifically for the Kichijōji branch of Parco in Tokyo, soundtracked by legendary Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. The pair have often collaborated over the course of the last 30 years, with Sakamoto creating music and Kurigami visuals for a number of projects. Indeed, Kurigami’s list of collaborators reads impressively: in 1976, the photographer was enlisted by Rei Kawakubo to shoot the Comme des Garçons campaign, as documented in the avant-garde label’s hard-to-find tome 1975-82.
While there seem to be only four Kurigami-directed Parco adverts online, there is plenty more of his work available out there. One, simply titled Make-Up, offers no explanation as to what it’s actually for, but sees a model joyfully smear bold-hued paints across her face, while the artist tests out what can only be described as an early iteration of the Instagram zoom feature. Bryan Ferry casually hangs a picture frame in an appearance for Jun cars. Sylvester Stallone takes to director’s seat in a (slightly meta) advert for Knorr. And original supermodel Margaux Hemingway, in bed, seductively eats orange marmalade out of the jar, as part of an advertisement for, well, orange marmalade. Prepare to lose yourself in a hole of obscure Japanese television adverts – and come out of the other side a better person for it.