The Complaints Choir: Denounce to the Music

December 4th, 2009 by Jason Jenkins

Japanese people are not known for airing their grievances in public, but a new project has arrived in Tokyo offering locals a new way to speak their mind. The Complaints Choir is the brainchild of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, a Finnish/German artist duo who conduct workshops and performances where the daily gripes of a city or society are written down and then sung with musical accompaniment.

The Complaints Choir concept has seen over 20 different incarnations around the globe since 2005. They recently hit Japan, and the final works can be seen in an exhibition at the Mori Museum running until February 2010. One of the most interesting aspects of the Complaints Choir is that it is comprised of ordinary people and is completely voluntary. “If we . . . make an open invitation, and if no one wants to take part, then that’s a clear indication that this project is not needed,” explained Kalleinen in an interview with Tokyo Art Beat.

Anyone can take part, she says, but no one is asked directly to ensure that only those who truly want to participate are involved. Complaints made in Japan varied from rude behavior on trains and eating habits to grooming issues.

If you could complain about Tokyo life through song, what would your gripes be? And what musical genre would be the best vehicle? Add your list of grievances in the comments below.

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