Erin Smith


A collection of photographs exploring the medical condition Kitsune-tsuki, or "fox possession", on the streets of NY.

Animals, People and Those In Between

Kitsune-tsuki is a disease that until recently was a medical condition on the books in Japan wherein a person (typically a woman) is possessed by a fox spirit. The symptoms run the gamut from craving tofu to belligerence and running naked through the streets. With traditional proverbs like "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down," fox possession in Japan can become a way for people to experience freedom and unique identities. The fox itself becomes a creature that is capable of exercising powerful force, and has their own set of individual varying desires - not unlike humans in animal form.

This piece examines a complex relationship with humans, foxes, madness, and freedom.

A combination of textile art, sculpture, and sound - an exaggerated flowing red silk straightjacket hangs in the air, topped with the face of a screaming fox, while the often unnerving sounds of fox audio plays from floor speakers. This is an experiential art piece focusing on fabrication and material combination.

I've been researching Foxes through the animals/people class and I'm particularly interested in the complex relationship between people and foxes in japan.

anyone - people who enjoy costuming might particularly like it.

User Scenario
People approach, look, listen, enjoy.

Elements - Straight jacket with extremely exaggerated/long arms. Hand fabricated in red silk.

Fox mask/head - sculptural in carved/painted foam

costume stand - very tall (8' ish) metal and wood

Fox audio from small speakers.

A small defined space wound be ideal (small walls built around it).

I've really enjoyed the research process and I find the history of foxes and mental illness to be fascinating. I have yet to break anything! I hope to experiment with using the CNC to carve the base for my head/mask - in the past my foam sculpting has been done by hand and I'm excited to see the opportunities that may provide.