Podcasts from Celebrating Protest series

July 5, 2007

Finally, all podcasts are on-line!

Noriaki Imai (Student, Environment and Peace Activist)
“Why I went to Iraq: Three Years Later” 

Tari Ito (Performance Artist) and MASA (Jazz Saxophonist)
“Rubber Tit”

Hitomi Kamanaka (Film Director)
“Q&A with Director Hitomi Kamanaka” 
– panel discussion on Director Kamanaka’s film, “Rokkashomura Rhapsody,” with Kamanaka, Judy Hoffman (Film Director,Cinema and Media Studies), Michael Raine (Cinema and Media Studies/ EALC) and Norma Field (EALC)

Michiko Nakajima (Lawyer)
“The Fifteen-Woman Lawsuit against Self-Defense Forces in Iraq”
Discussant: John Comaroff (Anthropology), Translation: Norma Field (EALC)

Emi Koyama
“Colonialism, Militarism, and the Political Economy of Transracial Adoption” 

Emi Koyama (Director, Intersex Initiative)
“Intersex at the Intersection of Queer Theory and Disability Theory” 

Yoshifumi Tawara(Sec. General of Children and Texbooks Network 21)
“Japanese Education and Society in Crisis” 
Translation: Norma Field (EALC)


reclaiming the objecthood of the tit

June 8, 2007

I thought Rubber Tit was a delightful display of deliberate ludicrocity. Although I’m not completely sure if this was the performers’ message, a show revolving around a blatant, homosexual, over-the-top fascination with one giant tit definitely is a cornerstone in the triumphant feminist reclamation of the female body. By portraying the protagonist’s seemingly childish obsession with playing with a giant, artificial boob (that is detached from a person and therefore devoid of humanity), the silliness of objectifying this part of the female body is effectively communicated. In addition to revealing this socially accepted absurdity, the performance also sheds light on the enormous power and political potency of “the tit”. Unsurprisingly, someone in the audience asked if it was intentional to depict the rubber tit as a maternal entity. I thought this assumption was hilarious; if it were an adult male doing the same performance, this audience member would probably perceive the interaction as mainly sexual instead, however tender or loving the protagonist’s demeanor is. I think this shows the common conception of the functions of “the tit”: a nurturing tool for children, a plaything for adult males; if a woman had anything to do with another woman’s tit, then it must be a gross regression to a childhood lack of maternal love. So of course Rubber Tit had nothing to do with maternity! The purpose is to shatter the conventional objectification of the female body!


cacophony as a response to pop culture

June 8, 2007

From reading Blue Nippon, discordance seems to play an integral role in the Japanese jazz scene. As the author points out, this wild display of “spontaneity, soul, ecstasy, and fun” appears to be oxymoronic to a typical foreigner’s conception of Japanese culture. Blue Nippon makes an implicit reference to this cacophony as a reaction to mainstream Japanese culture, which is described as “a jaded, materialistic society in advanced stages of moral decline.” To what degree is this artistic protest effective and reflective of a culture in crisis? What can we, as foreigners, infer about Japanese pop culture from studying subcultural deviance? On a similar note, how is the use of cacophony related to the message of the Rubber Tit performance?


Asahi Shinbun article on Tari-san

June 7, 2007

Hi, greetings from Tokyo!

I scanned an article in Asahi Shinbun (one of Japan’s leading daily newspapers) on Tari-san’s upcoming performance in the Philippines.

Tari article


Nostalgia..

June 5, 2007

All of these posts about Nori and RubberTIT/tari&MASA make me wish that it were still the beginning of this quarter! It was awesome getting to know Nori a lot better when we were showing him around campus. I can’t believe he’s gone through so much at such a young age… To think that there is only a few years between us is crazy!

MASA’s saxophone performance during one of our class dinners was a definite highlight. I was so blown away by her playing! And then a week or so ago I went to the university’s Jazz X-Tet performance and watched them perform. They had a female trumpet player and she was great.

Overall, the Celebrating Protest Series brought in amazing speakers… And it was awesome to meet people who have done so much and are so passionate about what they have fought for and do for a living.

I really enjoyed Kiku’s presentation on techno and post-techno in class. That was truly a treat… I remember my jaw dropping the entire time because it was all so new to me.

Emi’s visit was great, too. We all remember the snail mating story, don’t we? Haha.

And, of course, Beryl & Addie. American otaku unite! That was a very fun class period as well.


Rubber Tits

June 4, 2007

I personally really enjoyed the Rubber Tit performance, and although my common complaint with performance art is that it gets too boring too quickly, this one managed to hold my attention and yet not drag on for too long.

I liked the interaction between music and sight, and I thought it was interesting how MASA was positioned outside of the audience, as if to signal that she should be only heard, and not looked at. This was, of course, not my natural reaction, and I found myself looking at her sometimes, and I wonder to what extent this was designed or not. Tari, however, when she was making noise in the beginning with the microphone, was something to be both looked at and heard, which I thought was interesting. I’m not sure how this relates to the questions of sexuality and out-of-the-closetness that the performance was about, but I thought it was an interesting take on the subjects of sight and hearing.

I also really liked how, at times, MASA’s sax would replicate the high-pitched tones of the machine the rubber tit. It seemed to acknowledge the performance on display and her own role within that performance, and seemed like a battle of the sounds between the two objects (the machine and the saxophone).


Rubber Tit

June 3, 2007

My first thought was why the performance had it’s name “Rubber Tit” and why she chose the word “tit” rather than breast or boob or any other word. I eventually realized the point she was trying to make was that this word was perhaps one of the more common or universal which is in line with the idea of using a breast in her art because of its universality. I was a bit confused as the performance began but then I found myself being more and more entertained as it went on because of the interaction with the crowd as well as Tari’s impressive control/mastery over her own bodily control. I thought at first that her movements were completely random but then I saw that there certainly was order to them and that they somehow accompanied both the actions of the tit and Masa on the Saxophone. I thought that the notion of identification that we discussed today was certainly an important one because the performance was indeed rather interactive and as such, each audience member would have his or her own unique response to what was being performed. Everyone can recognize the object in front of them, yet I felt certain that each one of us had different thoughts about what we were seeing because of how Tari combined such a universal object with abstract art; it lends itself to a very personal understanding by each individual. At the end of the performance, I was more apt to understand what she was trying to accomplish because I was able to read the program and get a better understanding of her background which I think plays a huge part in her art.

On another note, I would like to applaud both Tari and Masa for their bravery and talents and for sharing these with us at the University of Chicago. I do hope one day that people need not fear or be ashamed of who they are because of the ancient and traditional values society has in place, yet has not taken the time to re-evaluate. I wish them both the best in their future.

The above was typed by me right after the play and I just want to add now that having sat through the entire course, I can understand a bit more what they were trying to do.  We have looked at such a range of topics and issues that many would deem too controversial to even bring up making our class go far beyond popular culture in Japan and I think that Tari and MASA have truly come far in their lives to be where they are right now.  I want to say that I wish I could view the performance again now at the end of the quarter and write a new response and compare it to the one above to see just how differently I interpreted and understood the performance after completing the course.  I think I would have been able to appreciate it much more and wish there were more performances that I could possibly attend in the future.  I wish them both the best.

Alan