I’m Not Your Inspiration: Maki Yamazaki


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Maki Yamazaki
"Maki's distinctive voice comes through clearly."

The third installment in Sandra Alland's series of short films looking at LGBTIQQ artists who are also deaf and/or disabled, this film focuses on Maki Yamazaki, a musician, writer, comic artist and game designer who performs in venues across the UK. It's filmed in talking head format, the artist framed against vivid Sixties-style wallpaper that almost but not quite matches the deep aqua tones of their hair, and intercut with snippets from their performances, including a rendition of repurposed Radiohead adaptation I'm A Crip.

The principal focus of the piece is on Maki's attempts to be recognised as a serious professional rather than treated as a novelty. Issues of sexuality and gender are explored in the context of communities that may be less inclusive than they think; race comes up surprisingly little; by far the biggest issue is disability. Physical barriers are discussed - the frustration of arriving at venues to find they're inaccessible, the bizarre lack of wheelchair accessible stages - and so are social ones, as Maki discusses the surprise with which some audiences respond to their work, having assumed that their presence on the bill must be somebody's act of charity. As if things weren't tough enough for outsider artists trying to make a living.

Films like this always run the risk of coming across as pity pieces themselves, but that is mercifully not the case here, as Maki's complaints show more fierceness than pleading and betoken a passion for art that is at the heart of what makes their creative work interesting. Identity labels are put in their place as descriptive of aspects of a person and how they are perceived by the world, but as incapable of defining wholly what that person is or does. Maki's distinctive voice comes through clearly so that even viewers who feel unable to connect with the work itself will, if they have any significant experience of the arts, recognise the seriousness (and sometimes the playfulness) behind it. The film suffers a little from relying on Maki's music for its soundtrack, as this doesn't always fit with the tone of the interviews, but overall it's a strong piece, one that will feel most potent to those who have worked as creative artists themselves.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2015
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Musician and visual artist Maki Yamazaki discusses visible and invisible disabilities, barriers to access for disabled and trans artists, and the intersection of race, gender and ability.

Director: Sandra Alland

Starring: Maki Yamazaki

Year: 2014

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: UK


Glitch 2015

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