MA Arts Politics Class of 2013
BA Sociology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College
Figurative Arts, Bigakko experimental art dojo in Tokyo
Miho Tsujii is performing artist, creative director and producer. Her solo performances intersect movement, visual, moving image and sound art, story telling and shamanism. Her stories are based on her own life experiences related to generational impacts of war, nuke, disaster, gender and cultural hybridity. She has performed at and for diverse communities around the world that have been impacted by social conditions such as war, violence, tsunami and nuke. Miho has worked with women survivors of conflicts from around the world, particularly ‘comfort women’ survivors from WWII, whose strides for justice she has supported over a decade.
Miho captures the journey of her performances, as a shared journey titled Angel of History, where she maps and transforms the voices she receives from the audience coming from Congo, Cambodia, Vietnam, New York, West Virginia, Tokyo and more. In the Angel of History, performance Miho construct a giant paper crane, while performing the story of her grandmother, who was a ‘comfort woman’ survivor, her grandfather who experienced war as a soldier, and a girl Sadako from Hiroshima.
Miho holds a MA in Arts Politics from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College and is trained in figurative arts at Bigakko experimental art dojo in Tokyo. Miho is licensed to teach the ancient Japanese flower art, Ikebana, in her family’s Saga Goryu tradition based in Kyoto. She is also trained in Noh dance and singing, and Japanese tea ceremony. Miho is also trained in grief support and drama/music based therapy. Miho is founder and producer of Stand Up Sisters, a feminist artist movement in Tokyo, and joint-producer of Feminist Active Documentary Film Festa.
What drew you to the MA Arts Politics program?
My artistic practices and activism dedicated to war, nuke, women and diversity.
How do you describe or identify your practice/ work?
I practice in and out of art sphere to deliver my performances at and for any communities and audience around the world for I find that everywhere I am, we resonate with and heal from the depth of human experiences ranging from violence to poetic connectivity. Performance originates in shamanic practices and human body is integral in itself as part of the universe. While my presentation form is contemporary art, my trainings had to be grounded in ancient arts practices of where I originate from, that is of dance, theater, singing, music, costume, flower and tea in Japan that encompass the healing, wisdom and simplicity that speak to the integrity of the universe. Despite the impacts of war, nuke hazard, discrimination, disaster, environmental destruction and many consequences of human deeds I live through, I know from performing and witnessing the transformations that performance brings to performers and the audience, that we also know to value life.
How did your experience in the program shape your work?
In delivering the performance Angel of History, I have found that performance heals and dissolves boundaries that are otherwise hardest to overcome outside of lived artistic moments, that is, over opposing sides of war, victim/perpetrator dynamics, over generations, regions, race or gender, because artistic experience evokes empathy and inspiration at the point of humanity. It connects people on human to human level.
I often find that after my performance, the audience is triggered to share stories they have never told in life, in space with other audience or with me in private. Performance mediates healing. I began to map the otherwise untold stories, which I receive as gifts from a wide spectrum of audience around the world wherever I perform. The Angel of History, as a journey, has developed into the weaving of universal experiences grounded in each encounter’s of human texture.
What are you doing now?
Creating and performing my own pieces. Getting trained in Noh, Ikebana, tea ceremony, and western dance disciplines in order to reorganize my body into a new level for work. Exploring/developing my own forms of dance, coding, and creative pieces. Performing and directing other people's works of different genre to nurture my artistic journey and practices. Occasionally teaching as an artist which is great joy.