Monday, March 13, 2000:

Dutch performance artist Iepe B. T. Rubingh is being detained by Tokyo police after his Shibuya performance, "I'm very sorry, said the Joker to the Shogun, but this is funny isn't it?"
Apparently the boys in Hanae Mori blue didn't think so. Rubingh was transfered from the Hachiko koban to the main Shibuya police station shortly after the performance at around 9:30pm Saturday Mar 11. The piece (and subsequent detainment) mirror a Berlin action the artist did last fall.
In Tokyo, Rubinch stood atop a pedestal in a yellow and black "joker" suit, waving signal flags in the center of the main Shibuya Hachiko square intersection. The busy crossing, which was at its peak with the trendy traffic that swarms the area on weekends, had been quickly cordoned by persons unknown in a complete tangle of red and white emergency tape moments before Rubinch began.
The performance, which brought a joyous, chanting and dancing crowd to the center of the intersection, lasted about ten minutes.
Local recording artist and comedian Cloudy B. Bongwater, who was in the crowd and was also picked up by police during the performance, has been released.
A group of local students who mounted what appeared to be a protest performance (in their underwear) at the same intersection some thirty minutes after Rubingh was taken away, apologized profusely afterward and were sternly instructed to disperse by police.
UPDATE: As of Sunday evening, Rubingh was still in custody. The police are said to be collecting (and tracing?) cell phone numbers in an attempt to track down conspirators. As there were no "unfortunate" incidents connected with the performance, a source has indicated that the the artist may be released with a warning within the next 24 hours. Then again, he may not: Japanese law permits police to hold people without charges for up to three weeks.
UPDATE: Late Sunday night there were rumors that Rubingh was about to be or had been released. Also, go here for an eyewitness account on the performance from AL's Tokyo man in the street R.P.P. Sherman.
UPDATE: Rubingh was released Sunday, but his freedom was short-lived: Around noon Tuesday Apr 14, police arrested and formally charged the artist, who is now once again in custody.
UPDATE: The performance and arrest have now been widely reported by mainstream Japanese media, who have almost all dismissed Rubingh as a "jishou" artist (jishou can be translated as "so-called," the term has a sarcastic implication). Although Rubingh distributed a press kit prior to his performance, no media have used any comments or quotes from it, instead they have echoed the police line that the Dutch artist is not actually an artist at all, but rather some sort of degenerate. On the question of whether Rubingh's non-conformist bent disqualifies him from being an artist, we at AssemblyLanguage say "No." A comment from the Dutch Embassy's cultural attache Ernesto Braam: "Rubingh has an artistic background, he is an artist."
UPDATE: On Tuesday Mar 21 police contacted Friday Magazine- a popular local weekly, as part of their thorough Joker investigation. Seems the police wanted to find out who had tipped the magazine off about Rubingh's performance. Actually, there were dozens of media people there, a running account was remote-broadcast live on Italian public radio even. Perhaps Tokyo police want to send a man to Rome...
UPDATE:After 12 days in captivity, Rubingh was fined 50,000 yen and released Friday Mar 24.
The Joker performance gallery