17 November – Eye on Art: Tomoko Mukaiyama

h 17.00    Water Children
h 19.30    Multus #2: Dance on Piano

Tomoko Mukaiyama is a Dutch-Japanese pianist, performer and visual artist based in Amsterdam. She pushes on the boundaries of the classical music world. As a pianist and visual artist she has a fascination for unconventional contemporary art projects and plays with the conventions around her instrument, her profession and performance in a broader sense. She uses her experience as a concert pianist to give a new dimension to the concert space, as well as to performance and installation art.



Tomoko Mukaiyama (Photo: Philip Mechanicus)


As a multimodal artist Tomoko develops art installations and performing arts projects that combine music with contemporary dance, fashion and visual art. The core of her work is communicating with the audience. She creates a wide variety of projects in different kinds of spaces, always striving to present her art projects in a specific and communicative form, moving between performing in more prestigious venues and creating musical experiences for the intimacy of one.

Tomoko’s installation performance wasted (2009), made of some 12.000 silk dresses, challenged the transience of the feminine virtue of fertility. A piano concert with multi media reached out to audiences to participate or engage with this installation through a personal ritual.

The work successfully toured five locations all over the world, and led to a documentary film called Water Children (2011). The documentary is an ode to womanhood and the body.



At h 17.00 Water Children

(The Netherlands, 2011, 75′, English subtitles)

Filmmaker Aliona van der Horst followed the trail of the unconventional Dutch-Japanese pianist and artist Tomoko Mukaiyama who made a huge work of art on the theme of womanhood and fertility. She created a cathedral-like space out of twelve thousand white silk dresses in which visitors, as in a ritual, roamed around and fell silent. And where people confessed intimate details about children who were or were not born, about sexuality and life-choices. This resulted in a majestic epic about motherhood, miscarriages and menopause. In a visual and poetic way, the film penetrates into what is probably still one of the greatest of taboos, menstruation, and, as a consequence, touches upon universal themes around life and death.

Some aspects of life are hard to express in words. To touch the deep layers of feelings connected to issues of motherhood and loss and experiences of procreation and the sense of failure it can entail, you need to create something like music, a labyrinth or a ritual. Something that isn’t only about speaking meaning, but explores other ways to express the deep and intense experiences in our lives. In this documentary, artist and pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama asks a group of Japanese women to participate in her art project exploring and meditating on the meaning of their monthly blood and the rhythm of their bodies. The women, sometimes for the first time in their lives, try to give words to their experiences, resulting in powerful testimonies about the connection between life and death, mortality and the power of life. Gradually, and unexpectedly, this film evolves into a collaboration between the artist and me. Why did I chose to make a film about such a sensitive and hard to grasp subject as “female fertility”? I am challenged by the Tomoko who asks me to participate in her project; confronting my own strong and mixed feelings towards being a woman without children of my own. Our conversation takes place in music and images. This film is about how deeply art can be connected to life and how necessary it it is to express what we often cannot speak about.




At h 19.30 Multus #2: Dance on Piano

Multus #2: Dance on Piano is a theatrical concert with video. Tomoko presents together with Gerard Bouwhuis an intriguing program for two pianos surrounded by a forest of video screens. Tomoko created this installation using footage by Dutch filmmaker J.C. Moll. Starting in the ’20s he focused his work on time-lapse photography and recorded flourishing plants in his conservatory. The video installation shows black and white images of blossoming flowers and growing crystals, and was made in collaboration with the EYE filmmuseum.

In this setting Tomoko and Gerard play an arrangement of Le Sacre du Printemps, the groundbreaking work by Igor Stravinsky in which the ghosts of an untamed prehistoric Russia are evoked. They also perform two more restrained pieces, Experiences no. 1 by John Cage and Socrate, drame symphonique en 3 parties by Erik Satie in an arrangement for two pianos by John Cage. The various rhythms of film and music draw the audience in and sometimes accompany each other, and sometimes deliberately not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s