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Rubber Tit a hands-on experience / Chicago Monroon
By Supriya Sinhababu
Friday, April 6th, 2007
Like a punctured hot air balloon, it began its performance lying shrivele and orange at the bottom of a modified wooden crate with edges but n sides. With the aid of a portable air blower and the sounds of a jaz saxophone for inspiration, the thing slowly took shape, spiting the efforts o the small Japanese woman who energetically bound the crate at arbitrar intervals with rainbow-colored cord
When the thing grew big enough to chafe at the sides of the crate, the woman abandoned her web-weaving and wrenched the strange object bodily from its confines. Now a little taller than the woman herself, the thing at the end of its development finally resembled a “rubber tit,” both an actor and a prop in its, uh, titular performance.
Rubber Tit’s two non-synthetic performers assumed the shapes of Japanese lesbians: performing artist-cum-performance artist Tari Ito, and jazz saxophonist Masa, a New York resident for the past 20 years. Sponsored by the Japan Committee of the Center for East Asian Studies and the Center for Gender Studies, among others, Rubber Tit dealt abstractly with Japan’s ingrained homophobia and the difficulties of leading a lesbian lifestyle in that nation.
Some of the five dozen or so attending students, who sat mainly on the floor of the Cloister Club at Ida Noyes Hall on Tuesday night, may have come to Rubber Tit out of interest in such gender issues. Others may have expected only to experience something from the very broad category of “weird and from Japan.” The performance delivered on both counts, but also succeeded from a purely entertainment-seeking standpoint. Rubber Tit dragged lofty intellectual concepts from their roosting places down to the Cloister Club floor, where they could actually engage an audience.
Audience participation had a lot to do with Rubber Tit’s success. While the well meaning tactic has added a cheesy, elementary-school feel to many an otherwise interesting performance, Rubber Tit avoided corniness almost entirely. While the tit inflated, Ito wordlessly wrapped her rainbow cord around the feet of a few lucky audience members, this writer included. After extracting the fully-inflated tit from its prison, she spent a few minutes jumping and rolling around in the tit like a child in an enormous beanbag chair; then, to everyone’s surprise, she heaved the tit onto the cross-legged audience members. A sort of volleyball game quickly developed between Ito and the crowd, and before long the tit had made its way around the room. Ten-cent parallels to confronting the sexuality of oneself and others could be drawn from the literally in-your-face tit, but only in retrospect. The show itself was engaging enough that during the performance, the audience did not have to scrape for meaning to justify sitting through boring moments.
That said, some elements of the performance certainly packed more punch than others. The show began with the lights completely dimmed, and with Ito lying in the crate on top of the deflated tit. A camera inside the crate shed light on Ito’s writhing movements by way of a large projection screen at the front of the room. At one point the camera projection overlapped with the silhouette of a Japanese legislator, whom running text revealed as the first Japanese lesbian to come out during office. While certainly relevant to Rubber Tit’s themes, this woman’s story seemed adventitious because of its length and textual medium.
The music of Masa’s jazz saxophone, on the other hand, added immeasurably to the performance. At moments when Ito failed to completely arrest the audience’s attention—mainly during her brief pauses in interacting with the tit—Masa’s excellent playing picked up the slack. Significantly, Masa’s performance didn’t have the feel of being too artsy for the appreciation of novice jazz listeners. As with the tit, Masa’s music may well have expressed heavier themes of sexism and homophobia. However, it was entirely possible, if not easier, for the audience to leave contemplation for a later date, and instead just sit back and enjoy the show.
Rubber Tit a hands-on experience By Supriya Sinhababu Friday, April 6th, 2007/Chicago Monroon
by rubbertit | 2007-04-07 15:58 | Review

Suchedule of Performance

Tuesday, April 3rd 2007
Cloister Club, Ida Noyes Hall
University of Chicago
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Monday, April, 9th 2007
Heritage Room
ACES Library
1101 S. Goodwin
Urbana, IL 61801

Friday, April, 13th 2007
The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center

208 W.13th St. NYC 10011 (212-620-7310)
by rubbertit | 2007-03-29 23:25 | Suchedule

Rubber Tit by Tari Ito

Rubber Tit By Tari Ito

My past works of performance art, which include “Self Portrait”, my coming-out piece (1996); “Me Being Me”, a work dealing with the relationship between myself and my family (1998); “Where is the Fear?” (2001); and “People in Rainbow Colors” (2004), all touch upon the existence of homophobia within society. These shows had a particularly strong impact given the fact that feminists had begun to deal with the matter of sexuality in the early 1990’s, and as such I was invited to give a considerable number of performances. Through this process, I was also able to embark upon the path of my own personal identification.

I am well aware of the fact that my ability to find the courage to live as a lesbian has been intertwined with the tireless work of feminists over the course of many years. The fact has not changed, however, that I still continue to confront hardships within the course of my everyday life. As a result, it is absolutely clear to me that lesbians have no choice but to continue the fight against the existence of sexism within the rigidity that characterizes Japanese society.

Since the incident of September 11, 2001, there has been a considerable backlash in Japan against feminism—as well as an additional recent trend of gender-bashing—that has caused sexual minorities in our country to come under a severe amount of pressure. The government has also begun steering toward a stance of protectionist nationalism, which has resulted in a trend toward returning to traditional Japanese ideals, as well as the rampant use of patriotic propaganda.

This situation has resulted in a series of official statements being made that are openly offensive toward human rights, and these utterances have also tended to bring up my own personal memories of the time when individuals’ self-determination was completely forbidden in our society. Recent conversations in Japan about the issue of succession to the emperor’s throne have additionally made it clear that the imperial household is completely oblivious to the existence of women’s human rights, and that the issue of human rights more generally has yet to be seriously addressed in Japan at all.

My performance includes a scene showing a conversation between Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and a reporter discussing a homophobia-related murder that occurred six years ago. Unfortunately, there has also been another incident of a gay man recently being attacked in the very same park. When the youth who committed the more recent crime gave his testimony, he was apparently quoted as saying “I did it because I figured the case wouldn’t even be brought to the police if the victim was a gay person.”

My piece titled “Where is the Fear? (2006 Version)” brings up the challenging matter of how one may react in the midst of these political and social trends. In reality, it is impossible to get away from the feeling that no matter how loudly we lesbians protest against the difficult social conditions that confront us—or no matter how many times we try to explain this situation to heterosexuals—we just seem to be ignored. Given this reality, I have chosen to communicate this message in a positive and natural way through playing with giant rubber breasts, which is my ultimate sexual fantasy. By bringing forth a pair of breasts, those dangerously universal body parts, I intend to draw attention to that which we all have a personal connection with—as well as a political one.

Another image used in my performance is of Kanako Otsuji, an assemblywoman from Osaka who recently came out as a lesbian, who comments that discrimination in Japan is conducted and perpetuated through the avoidance of specific issues. This is a situation that I am not willing to tolerate, however—and nor am I willing to simply dismiss it on the basis of this being a part of Japanese culture.
by RubberTit | 2007-02-16 03:37 | Rubber Tit
Tari Ito Performance Artist / Feminist 

Ito was born and raised in Tokyo. She spent four years performing in Holland beginning in 1982, and began integrating elements of feminism into her work around 1990. She founded the Women’s Art Network (WAN) in 1995, and between this year and 2002, she held an exhibition titled "Women Breaking Boundaries 21" and also organized a collaborative tour between Japanese and Korean artists. She began managing a multipurpose studio titled “PA/F Space” in 2003, and continues to spearhead projects aimed at the empowerment of sexual minorities. Her present works include “Where is the Fear? (2006 Version)” and “I Will Not Forget You: Homage to Kim Sundok. “

E-Mail; tari@gol.com


by RubberTit | 2007-02-16 03:12 | Tari Ito/profile