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High Concepts, Performance Arts

Musing on ‘Tsuchi’

by Sponsored Artist Mitsu Salmon

Two weekends ago, I showed a 20-minute version of my developing work Tsuchi for the Chicago Post-Butoh Festival. It was an amazing and beautiful experience. What follows are some thoughts on creating and performing Tsuchi.



My great grandfather, Tomohiro, emigrated from Okinawa to Honolulu, Hawaii.

He was a pineapple farmer.

A pineapple rests on my head

Hips sway

In the background sounds of a slowed down steel guitar

I pull out the stems as my hair falls out

I bite in even though later this will hurt

The juice slides down my chin

I want I want I want



“Between 1869 and 1885 Japan barred emigration to Hawaii in fears that Japanese laborers would be degrading to the reputation of the Japanese race, as had occurred with the Chinese. In 1881 King David Kalākaua visited Japan to strengthen relations between the two nations. Kalākaua and Emperor Meiji Mutsuhito could identify with each other; both countries were island nations, both were nations of the Pacific, both were monarchies, and both were under pressure of Western powers. Kalākaua offered not to request extraterritoriality of Japan, an act that departed from the norm of western nations. On March 10 Kalakaua met Meiji to propose a marriage between Princess Victoria Kaiulani and Prince Higashifushimi Yorihito, a few days later the proposal was denied, but the ban on immigration was eventually lifted in 1885. The first 153 Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii on February 8, 1885 as contract laborers for the sugar cane and pineapple.” -Wikipedia


brideMy great grandfather immigrated to Hawaii during this time. He worked in the pineapple farms with his father.

He ordered a picture bride, but they sent the wrong one. They sent the older one, when he requested the younger.

“They sent the ugly one,” he remarked. But they remained married throughout his life.

Though he was a pineapple farmer, he longed to be a waiter at a fine dining restaurant. He worked his way up from a farmer to a waiter at Halekulani restaurant, the second biggest hotel in Hawaii. It was a dream come true! He thought of it as a very elegant job.


Untitled3I thought of him as I worked as a waitress this fall in a fine dining restaurant. However, this is not my dream—after all, I had just earned a masters degree! But I thought of him and the art of fine dining waitering, and thus began my daydreaming about this piece.

Mitsu has been developing Tsuchi while in residence at HCL as a Sponsored Artist this season, and will be performing a work-in-progess showing July 16.

Thursday, July 16
7 PM / $10
High Concept Labs Studio A
2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL




  1. Pingback: Memories and Metaphors | thisistheHCLblog - July 13, 2015

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This blog is a source for our associated artists and audiences to share the experience of the creative process. Here you will find news, pictures, and video's of the new work created at HCL.

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