Shin-Ichi Arai

b. 1959, Japan

Shin-Ichi Arai lives and works in Tokyo. He studied Chinese modern literature at Tokyo Metropolitan University and later majored in printmaking (Intaglio/Copper printing). Since 1982 he has been creating performances as well as experimenting in sound, voice and language performance actions. As a Japan Overseas Cooperative Volunteer he taught at Nyumba ya Sanaa Art school in Zanzibar, Tanzania for two years from 1992 to 1994 where he experienced various insights into the relationship between culture and politics in contemporary society. This led to the radical social-political performances that are exemplary of his work. In his raw and direct style, Arai’s body appears as a site of social tension presented with humour, yet biting criticism, often exposing the conservative and xenophobic cultural tendencies and contradictions in global and local situations. He has performed regularly in Japan and has also presented his works internationally in China, Canada, Korea, Thailand and elsewhere.

International Visiting Artists: Japan

FADO is pleased to present the Toronto premieres of Japanese performance artists Mimi Nakajima and Shin-Ichi Arai, in the context of the 4th 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art, and as a part of FADO’s International Visiting Artist series.

Mimi Nakajima and Shin-Ichi Araiare part of a recent trend in Japanese performance art toward a rawer, more direct style that eschews the formalism and romanticism of an earlier generation. While traces of the poetic influence remain, these artists’ works reveal their interest in casting an unblinking eye on our bodies as a site of social tension.

Happy Japan! and Tourist: For E. Herbert Norman by Shin-Ichi Arai

In Happy Japan!, Shin-Ichi Arai calls attention to some of the contradictions of his native country. Critical of the political system and alarmed by conservative and xenophobic cultural tendencies, Arai makes his own patriotic statement through a bold art action: “Here in Japan, which is said to be rich, to be mature democracy, to have freedom of expression, all I can do is cry; Happy Japan! Happy Japan!”

Wind doesn’t blow branches by Mimi Nakajima

In relation to her work, Mimi Nakajima writes: “My performances develop from problems in my daily life, which I try to observe in an optimistic way. As I start to find the truth of a question, my thinking moves toward philosophic conclusion, the territory of ‘reason’. If I bring my conclusions back to reality, it creates a funny gap. That is what I want to express in performance. There is always some ‘vagueness’ in trying to clarify truth. It is quite difficult to express the vagueness itself, but I find performance a useful means of accepting it. In performance art, people experience discovery through sharing time and place.”

© Mimi Nakajima, Wind doesn’t blow branches, 2002. Photo unknown.

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer