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