My work explores the nature of an individual being on the Inside or Outside which can be conceived of in terms of society, sense of belonging, introspection or many other ways. These emotions are expressed minimally, typically in a white setting and without distraction of sound or background. My performances are usually public spaces to enhance the contrast and empathy with the audience.
The border between Inside and Outside is unclear and in a constant state of flux. We are all both insider and outsider in various aspects of our lives, sometimes simultaneously. As an outsider one must come to terms with loneliness, anxiety, and identity. But in fact we have few chances to be truly alone in the modern world. Ever-present Internet and telephone networks keep us perpetually connected, but the outside world we see through the filter of media is violent and uninteresting perhaps pushing us to just stay inside.
In fact it is now common amongst youth to communicate constantly but almost solely electronically, shunning direct contact with others. This occurs so frequently in Japan that it’s known withdrawal syndrome. It’s a strange contradiction that we can have little interpersonal contact yet also little time alone for introspection. Are these kids insiders or outsiders?
My own times of loneliness, far from home in Japan, have often pushed me to question my own identity. My recent performance House/Home examines these emotions through a metaphorical, inflatable house of translucent, white fabric. I perform a life in the home with a sparse selection of personal belongings.
Its impossible to see outside through the skin of my home, making it feel safe and cozy. Meanwhile the house is lit brightly from inside projecting my moving shadow to the outside audience. Each five minutes the house deflates, first collapsing and then tightly shrinking around me. The audience now sees me outside, stripped of my protective shell. After a short period the house begins reinflating and the cycle repeats.
Interestingly I’ve found that videos and photographs of these performances can also communicate its messages very effectively. A short video or montage of images has the advantage of using carefully selected moments and possibly ideal background conditions impossible in most public performance settings.
Typical of my work the simple repetition in my performances expresses Inside and Outside as the relationships between, for example, an individual and others, protection and exposure. Audiences appear to quickly grasp the emotions, asking whether I can breath inside, asking whether the balloon, in my “IN/OUT” series, Â represents a mother’s womb, or touching the inflated balloon, attempting make contact.