Sawada Tomoko plays with notions of identity through the traditional medium of self-portraiture. Her OMIAI♡ project sees the artist herself dress up in costumes, wigs and other ingenious disguises – including weight gain – to transform into various characters. The project, which verges on performance, consists of thirty self portraits, aimed at representing a different kind of woman in a playful and coyly subversive way.
The images mimic the traditional form of photography that would be taken during the Japanese custom of omiai, an integral part of an arranged marriage. The images are presented in vintage frames selected by the artist, again mimicking an old tradition – of displays of photographs in the windows of local photo studios in Japan.
Tomoko was born in 1977 and raised in Kobe, Japan. She studied at the Seian University of Art and Design.
Her photographs featured earlier this year in the exhibition The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography, which took place at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, and featured the work of five contemporary photographers born in Germany who emerged in the last two decades of the 20th Century.
Photo: OMIAI, 2001. Tomoko Sawada (Japanese, born 1977). Copyright: © Tomoko Sawada. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds.