Mika Ninagawa: Lavish Excess

a video essay by Aaron M. Kerner


Excess might be another form of distraction. Excess in this video essay refers to those cinematic elements that fall outside narrative meaning/content—namely, aesthetic embellishments. And these embellishments, which are typically addressed to the body of the spectator, very well might distract from the narrative content.

“Mika Ninagawa: Lavish Excess” focuses on Ninagawa’s films, and the ways she peddles in the currency of excess. Additionally, the mobilization of the term “excess” is a deliberate effort to recalibrate recent scholarship on extreme cinema. This is an effort to retain the momentum in recent scholarship, while hoping to lay claim to greater autonomy in defining what the cinema of excess might look like.


Aaron Kerner is a Professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. He published Film and the Holocaust (Continuum, 2011)—an extensive survey of cinematic treatments of the Holocaust. In 2015 Rutgers University Press published his volume Torture Porn in the Wake of 9/11. His co-authored book Extreme Cinema (Edinburgh University Press) was released in 2016. ​