Tether us (To Devour in Peace, 2023, Performance with Installation, 12 minutes
Chanel Matsunami Govreau





An interactive performance and installation inspired by Futakuchi Onna, a femme monster from Japanese folklore with multiple mouths and an insatiable appetite. A hanging sculpture is activated as a transformative extension of the artist’s body.

Audio Transcription

So, have you ever heard the story about, um, the woman who has a second mouth in the back of her head? So, ok, so there’s this guy right? He’s telling everyone that he wants a wife that doesn’t eat. So he’s telling everybody, he’s telling everyone in the village,” You know like yeah, I want a wife but she can’t eat. I can’t have a wife that eats.” 

So the word gets around. He’s hanging out and one day there’ a knock at his door. There’s a beautiful woman at the door and she’s like, “Hey, I heard you’re looking for a wife that doesn’t eat. Well, I don’t eat.” So he’s like, “Ok great!”

They get married, and sure enough, she doesn’t eat. He never see’s her eat. And it’s going well. But, after a while he starts noticing that his food supply, especially his rice supply is going down, and down and down and down. He’s like, “How is this possible? I’m the only one that eating, she doesn’t eat. Unless she’s lying to me. Unless something is going on here, right? Is she…is she eating? How is it even possible that we could be this low on our um, on our food? On our rice?”

So he hides out one day. And he’s in the house, and he’s just watching her, right.  And she’s cooking, cause she cooks. She doesn’t eat, apparently, but she cooks for him. And she has this big pot of rice and she’s making onigiri. Onigiri are these Japanese rice balls. And you take the rice and you can put something in the middle and you make kind of like a triangle with the rice. And maybe you put some nori, some seaweed on it. So make those and usually you have them for lunch or you take them out in your bento. Or maybe you pack a lunch for your family…but anyways. 

She’s making tons and tons and tons of onigiri rice balls. And then, all of a sudden, the back of her head opens up. And it’s this monstrous mouth. Just like, just out of nightmare. Just opens up in the back of her head. And it has these like mangled teeth and ya know like a long tongue. And it opens up from the back of her perfectly shiny hair. She’s cute right. She’s beautiful. She’s a beauty. But in the back of her head, she has a whole other mouth. And the hair, her hair starts unraveling, and grabbing the onigiri rice balls. And just feeding, just feasting! Devouring all of the rice. All of the onigiri.

And he’s shocked. So the husband is watching all of this happen. And he’s shocked ok? So she’s not eating with her face. But the back of her head, this monstrosity is consuming. 

There’s a few different ways that this story ends.

He confronts her, I think in one version he confronts her and he tells her to leave. And she leaves and goes back to the mountains. Cause she’s a mountain witch apparently, and can shape shift. And she leaves and goes back. He kicks her out.

And in another version I think she’s eats him. I think that that mouth in the back of her head eats him. 

And I think maybe in another version he kills her. 

And um, I think that there’s like rumors or different ideas about why.  Why does she have this kind of mouth in the back of her head? And some people think that its because it’s her twin. That she has a twin that was um attached. And has either the spirit of that sister. Or is living in her and comes out through this entity or opening in the back of her head and consumes. And she feeds it to stay alive.

And uh, yeah. I… This story. I fucking love this story. It haunts me.  And um, I think its really interesting to have a horror story about a woman that eats. 

Artist Statement:

I use fantasy and costume to build worlds where folks with intersectional identities, like myself, can exist with infinite belonging and engage in radical play.  My studio practice includes installation, screen printing, photography, and performance. My aesthetics are strongly influenced by my Japanese heritage. I grew up surrounded by my family’s legacy of kendo, kimono making and video game design.

In my recent work, I reference monsters of Japanese folklore, known as yokai, through a series of self portraits and installations. I embody the hidden queer ancestors of my family by reimagining them as contemporary yokai creatures. Through this practice, I transform the villainous portrayals of yokai monsters into aspirational figures empowered with the magic, glamour and camp of their queer identities.