Still from When I use English: There is a Hole, Waiting to Eat Me, It's Mouth Wide Open. Like a Vagina. Echo Comes Out. 2021
SUCK MY HOUSE
VR project created on STYLY
Transversing past and present, SUCK MY HOUSE invites the audience to inhabit an imaginative, haunted house where Japanese identities that aim to encompass complementarity, formless forms of “Japaneseness” are showcased. It is a narrative-based VR project, researched and created at the NEWVIEW SCHOOL in Tokyo in 2021.
It consists of a short film set in a 3D model of a Japanese house. The walls are projected with photographs taken in Japantown, Markham, Toronto, a place where “Japaneseness” has been “preserved” by migrants. It is almost inevitable that migrants would attempt to preserve memories of their homes. When one attempts to preserve memories, one also tends to romanticize the past; one, therefore, begins self-Orientalizing; like an edited photo, the memories become refined, romanticized; such memories sometimes take a small step further away from reality. Such memories, much like fantasies, though based on reality, are convoluted, filtered through time, space, as well as one’s own mind.
By layering the house, photographs, and a short film, I highlight the deeply rooted consciousness of Japan’s “complicit oppositioning between Japanese self-Orientalization and Western Orientalization.” Japan’s self-Orientalising patriarchy feminizes Japaneseness. It enacts a critique of Japanese “transvestite patriarchy”: a term coined by Chizuko Ueno. There is a lucid causal link between constructed “femininity” and Japan’s self-Orientalism—both at the individual and societal level. Femininity is a cultural attribute that can be adopted by men; the concept of femininity is close to the culturally constructed concept of gender. The Orient is related to “the separateness, its eccentricity, its backwardness, its silent indifference, its feminine penetrability, its supine malleability”—all of which are aspects that characterize femininity.
Japan has a history of masking patriarchy in femininity and exploiting femininity. The tradition of men as “transvestite” writers started back in the thirteenth century when the aristocrat, Kino Tsurayuki wrote down his personal memories of a trip in kanamoji—the “feminine” Japanese script used only by women of the time. Chizuko Ueno calls this feminized patriarchy “transvestite patriarchy”. Japan being a “mother-dominated society” is a myth; there is no matriarchy. In this structure, “Mothers” represent patriarchal male fantasies. They teach their sons to reproduce patriarchy in the next generation. Patriarchy disguised in femininity is still a patriarchy. This is reflected in the relationship between the female protagonist and a shape-shifting Japan, which in the film, takes the form of a woman. By inviting the audience to inhabit an imaginative house, I offer a critique of the past and the present built on gender dualism and Orientalism. Through this series, I insist on futures where Japanese identities are not mirrored images of colonial power while delinked from the idea of “pure originality” and devoid of internalized Orientalism. I wish to suggest a departure from compartmentalizing identities.
Installation view at Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto
2022 August - 2022 December