Hyottoko the God of Fire

Talent Showcase 2017
  • Scheme: Random Acts
  • People: Mikhail Karikis
  • Duration: 4'03"

Hyottoko the God of Fire Video

Film Information

  • Year of commission: 2016
  • Year of release: 2017
  • Artist Schemes: Film London Jarman Award


  • Artist: Mikhail Karikis

Hyottoko the God of Fire is a nod to the cultural history of disability. It is a single screen video and has been created in conjunction with Mikhail Karikis's larger project entitled The Chalk Factory which investigates the theme of disability and labour. Hyottoko the God of Fire functions as a prologue to this theme by featuring a performance of the ancient Japanese legend of Hyottoko by the bamboo flute player Kiku Day. Recently rediscovered by Dr Nicola Grove and analysed through the emergent field of the cultural history of disability, which explores narrative, visual and other representations of people with disabilities, the Hyottoko legend centers on an ‘odd-looking’ character who fails at every job he tries until he is asked to blow the village fire through a bamboo stick. His community soon discover that despite the fact that Hyottoko performs what they first thought was a simple task of little value, he is in fact the centre of their lives providing light, warmth and heat for cooking. The death-mask of Hyottoko's deformed face is a popular feature in contemporary Japanese culture celebrating the god of fire and domestic luck.

There are 2 versions of this single-channel work: an installation version and a screening version.

Find out more

Jarman Award 2019 interview:

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