Go Deeper

It’s Not Me It’s You: Q&A with Performance Artist Mayumi Ishino

Posted September 4th, 2009

I just sat down with New York-based performance artist, Mayumi Ishino, to discuss how her work interacts with the viewer’s perception, how she brings private spheres into the public, and how specific location shapes the dynamic of her performance. Her Philly Fringe show, It’s Not Me It’s You, is all about you and it opens tonight at 5pm.

In a statement on your website you say a recurring theme in your work has to do with “changes in identity that take place almost imperceptibly over short periods of time.” You also mention that you explore “our reluctance to embrace change when confronted with states that attempt to displace us.” How will this be presented in It’s Not Me It’s You?
Identity issues are often present in my work although from one piece to another they may be more or less so. In this piece I draw my image on a mirror and break the image, repeating the action in a sequence.

You also incorporate elements of self-portraiture.
I use self-portraiture as a medium for performance. Traditionally, when an artist creates a self-portrait, it is realized in the private sphere. I bring that process into the public sphere with the focus on the act of making a self-portrait rather than on any specific end-product.

When I think of the title of your show, I think of it as an inverse of the phrase “It’s not you, it’s me.” A lot of couples say this when they want to end the relationship. How does this factor into the performance or am I just reading too much into it?
The main subject here is not so much relationships or the specific personal realm. Even though I draw my own image on the mirrors, it is not limited to my experience.

You’ve performed in New York, Berlin, Jakarta, and now Philadelphia. How does location influence your work?
This is a very good question. I have performed in a number of locations—both outdoor and indoor. My action are certainly conditioned to a particular space. I find performing outdoors more dynamic and more representative of a city’s culture as opposed to the confines of a building or a stage. You have a different set of expectations. For the performance in Philadelphia, I chose the space that exposes me to a diverse audience of tourists, art enthusiasts, and locals that are just passing by. When I perform in a gallery, the crowd often comes with a different set of expectations.

Also there are a lot of unknowns when you perform outdoors. A siren might interrupt the concentration of a viewer or they might just stay

What other projects do you have coming up after this show?
For my next project, I am directing a theatrical performance that will incorporate various artistic disciplines. I am collaborating with a video artist, musician, and other performers. The movements will take place both on and off the stage.

It’s Not Me It’s You opens tonight at 5:00 pm, and also plays Saturday and Sunday at the same time. Free, on 3rd Street between Market and Arch streets, Old City, Philadelphia.

–Spencer Silverthorne

Photo credit: bb_matt