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Holidays from being human - click opera — LiveJournal
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Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 12:39 am
Holidays from being human



A Japanese female artist in her 20s, Sako Kojima, transformed herself, in 2004, into a gigantic hamster. For a week she lived in an art gallery equipped with straw and a big wooden hamster house. She wore a hamster costume and ate large sunflower seeds, sending darting, wary looks at the people staring at her.



When asked why, Sako explained that when people usually look at her, they see someone with a particular job, of a particular gender, nationality and age. "A Japanese female artist in her 20s," they'd say, just like I did. But these words are boxes, you get trapped in them. Sako wanted to break free from these limiting perceptions. She also wanted a break from the bombardment of words and information. So she took a holiday from being human.


Sako Kojima "La Femme Hamster", Lille, France, 2004

Like Edwina Ashton, Sako is fascinated by what happens when humans become animals. But human problems are never far away. Her sculpture and painting combines animals and cuteness with gender issues, sadism and masochism and sexuality: Close My Gap shows a seal sewing up a vagina-like gap in her groin, Lace Me Up has a rat or ferret giving birth while tied to a chair. In Baby Hip a small rodent gets used as pin cushion, and in Pain the same treatment gets meted out to a thumb. In other sculptures we see one animal watching as another, neck all noosed up for execution, steps off a cliff, or a circular sheep licking its own ass.

Sako says her work is about "the forest inside every woman", and how it's held in balance by the dual forces of emotion and control. Her furry performance work reminds me of an eccentric musician I once played a show with at Cafe Aux Baccanales on Tokyo's Meiji Dori. Jon the Dog is a Japanese woman who plays ramshackle, cute and crazy music about being a dog, while dressed up as a dog.


Jon the Dog: Performance 1


Jon the Dog: Performance 2

29CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 01:11 am (UTC)
you are just Japgirl holic

what happen to Kahimi and you?


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: you are just Japgirl holic

ahah they weren't ever a romantic item, you know. though it's so easy to believe!


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33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 01:12 am (UTC)

Being a (non-human) animal isn't always all that it's cracked up to be:


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)

I was not aware of his taste in music! I bet he'd be a blast to hang out with, though.

I wonder if he's into macrame.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 01:26 am (UTC)

You're gong to have the RSPCA on to you next you fuckin bestio-paedo.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 02:22 am (UTC)

if i were he, i'd say "BRING 'em ON!"


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:03 am (UTC)

Oxford Science Park is getting increasingly rabid!


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sarmoung
sarmoung
The Empire Never Ended
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)

Hmm, except what I see is still very much a Japanese female artist in her 20s, but one whose schtick in this piece is being a cosplay hamster in an art gallery. Enjoyable enough to watch, and maybe perform, but it doesn't seem such a convincing escape. Spending a week in a gallery under close observation seems a bit of a busman's holiday from humanity. How about "For three years I lived in the forest and pretended to be a fox. Nobody ever saw what I did.". Shouldn't escaping being human also be an escape from art? Beuys and the coyote, Timothy Treadwell in Herzog's Grizzly Man... Sleep approaches and sentences vanish.

(It's a late night sort of thought, but you used to post from Berlin early in the morning and more recently seem to have become more of an evening poster. Any particular reason?)


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cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)

SO true. Animals have no need to show themselves off to humans. Their behaviors are dictated by instinct. Since human instinct is to accumulate wealth, live healthy, outcompete others, mate, and eat, when people are selfish, they are actually living on instinct!

It's when we rise above instinctive impulses to steal things we want but don't have or kill our competition that we are truly better than animals. I am unimpressed with this "art" that is little more than a ludicrous publicity stunt. Hell, if she was naked, she'd at least be appealing to my instinctive needs...that'd be a million times more "animal" like than wearing fuzzy underwear and chewing on paper for a week.


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stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 09:13 am (UTC)

I think you've hit on something here by drawing the distinction between the human's constant need to appraise itself in the mirror and most other animals' complete inability even recognize their reflections.


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_dearjohn
_dearjohn
not another letter.
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)

I really respect her.


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hello_mike
Mike
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:07 am (UTC)

I'm impressed by how few comments there are to this.

I can't figure out exactly what this set of videos and images makes me think. It is evocative, but apparently not thought-provoking. I really feel like I need to know why this is making me want to watch it quite so much, though. I've watched Sako Kojima's video three times, now, twice when you posted and once now, hours later, and I can't look away. But I can't figure out why.

I kind of like Jon the Dog #1, too. She (it?) is so happy!

Very, very strange.


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trini_naenae
trini_naenae
trini_naenae
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:19 am (UTC)

I like Edwina Ashton's work, as sadistic as it may be. And I'll admit, the video in the comments with the girl dressed as a seal tormenting the polar bear got a laugh out of me. How inane.

My first reaction to your description of Sako Kokima's performance was along the lines of: "What about when she needed to pee? It would suck to have to pee with no privacy. And then would she have a toilet? And wouldn't she get bored? And then I watched the video and promptly became bored. It comes across as an attempt to be super cute but ends up as incredibly mindless and annoying.

I'm not even going to comment on Meiji Dori.

The sad thing is, even though Kokima was trying to escape being "a Japanese female artist in her 20s", she ended up confirming that very stereotype. The stereotype for Japanese females in their 20s is to be unrelentlessly cute. And quite a few artists do performance art.

Maybe I just can't handle that much cute in one sitting.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:00 am (UTC)

It's interesting to compare Sako dressed as a hamster with Mark Wallinger dressed as a bear or Shintaro Miyake dressed as a bee. Because these are, stereotypically, "serious male artists in their 30s", do we perceive them differently?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:15 am (UTC)

Or there's Fischli and Weiss:


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trini_naenae
trini_naenae
trini_naenae
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)

Wow, those are... um... I'm speechless. And not in a good way.

I suppose it does get mostly the same reaction. I can't watch it the whole way through. Maybe I have many many steps to go before I understand performance art, but this really does not speak to me.


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 08:30 am (UTC)

i think so whoever the 'we' may be unless it was a bunch of hamsters.

and as the guys above say an animal or a human 'becomming-animal' (deleuzian, shamanistic etc if there really is such a thing) has little to do with performance but it's a good go at playing an antropmorphized pet hamster kind of thing. in a way she's raising the stake a bit high for herself since unlike the serious male artists she's eliminating both metaphor and irony - from her stated intent at least. then she kind of succeeds through persistance. two weeks is reasonably convincing.


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trini_naenae
trini_naenae
trini_naenae
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC)

A little, but not much. I have to admit that the bee performance appealed to me the most of any. To my sensibilites, there were bee drawings. ("Ooh, something I understand now, drawing!) And he got uncomfortable and bored of it.

Maybe I shouldn't comment until I have a better understanding and appreciation for performance art. It's a world that I've really not paid any attention to.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)

Mark Wallberg turned in a great performance in "I Heart Huckabees." Agreed?


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pyrop
pyrop
Pronounced "Pie Ropp"
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 06:53 am (UTC)
sort of

Jon the Dog is also know for her appearance on the Katamari Damacy soundtrack.


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glitterbum
glitterbum
Courtney
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)

I'm not sure what it means, but we (the hallway of the building where I live) thought this would be an adequate way to welcome my friend Luke back to town after grad school. At least we had a human size hamster wheel welded for his exercize needs.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003007171_hamster20m.html

Although we were "performing" later than Sako Kojimo, we were purely doing it for the love of pranking, not "art".


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)

Somewhat similar to the famous room upside down prank. Which I'm sure, in about 1967, was someone's art installation too.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 09:27 am (UTC)

I think it's worth saying that appearing cute -- either childishly or sexually cute -- is not just a direct appeal to our hardwired mammalian instincts to reproduce and protect the resulting offspring. It's also symbolic of an appeal to social power, and I think the reason cuteness seems a much less suspicious or denigrated value in Asian cultures is that they're more collectivist in outlook.

Whereas in the West power is often seen as having the "strength" to stand alone, to be a maverick individualist, or dominate other people against their will by force, in Asian cultures it's more likely to be seen as the ability to co-operate with and to charm other people. Power here is the successful ability to make others let you join their social groups.

So disguising yourself as an impossibly cute animal has this paradoxically human function: the act of dressing up as an animal reveals a desire to be integrated as a human. Maybe that's why, when I look at Sako's performance as a hamster, I see someone becoming even more of a twentysomething Japanese female than she is without the costume. Then again, I see us all becoming Japanese females eventually, if we know what's good for us. Because I think their definition of social power is not just a humane, but a correct one.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC)

Interesting observation on what you perceive are these different concepts of social empowerment,if power and the need to dominate others is what rocks ones boat then certainly this Asian definition would conceivably- by dint of it's subtlety and inate diplomacy- perhaps be a more effective means of leadership than the authoritarian model you ascribe to Western culture.
From your experience of Japanese culture do you observe this former charismatic approach also being utilized by Japanese males or is it a uniquely female perspective on power?
Regards. Thomas.S


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)

Well, when the dominant Japanese male role model is the host, when cute, slight, spikey-haired poppet Kotaru Koizumi pulls in more with a single ad campaign than his dad did for a whole year of being Prime Minister, Akihabara gets trendy and the last otaku becomes a metrosexual... something is happening to Japanese men.


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sun, Dec. 3rd, 2006 06:21 am (UTC)
us all becoming Japanese females eventually


an alien invasion or something similar might be required for all humans to become japanese females since that condition either presoposes the existence of a different ontological class or opens up an enormous space ripe for neomarxian paranoia and speculation.


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butterflyrobert
RND
Sat, Dec. 2nd, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)

For what it's worth, I really dig this.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sun, Apr. 8th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)

she's one of the best things in the world these days.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, May. 9th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
ziegler

http://arthursclassicnovels.com/arthurs/hesse/ziegler.htm


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