All posts tagged: japan

Playing with identity in the work of Sawada Tomoko

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 …

In search of childhood: the ‘double self portraits’ of Chino Otsuka

Chino Otsuka was born in Japan in 1972 but left to study in the UK when she was just ten years old. Her enigmatic photographs are to be located somewhere at the intersection of these two worlds. The photographs in her series Imagine Finding Me, seen here, are what she calls “double self portraits.” They are inspired by the idea of the artist talking with her younger self. These half-light photos are digitally retouched to seamlessly combine images of herself as a child with those of her as an adult. In this way, she is like a voyager back in time, re-visiting her former self as though in a dream. The resulting images are beautiful and dreamlike. 1976 and 2005, Kamakura, Japan, 2005. Chino Otsuka (Japanese, born 1972). ©Chino Otsuka. Wilson Centre for Photography.    

Ishiuchi Miyako and postwar Japan

The work of Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako lies at a crossroads between the personal and the political, the fictional and the documentary. She has been interested in the subject of postwar Japan, particularly the impact of American occupation and Americanization on her native country, for the past four decades. Miyako was born in 1947 in Kiryu. She grew up in Yokosuka, where the United States had set up a naval base just a few years before she was born. As a young person, she disliked the prevalence of American culture in the city. In the 1970s, nearly two decades are she first lived there with her family, the artist returned to her hometown armed with a camera, taking photos as a kind of catharis. The Yokosuka Story series of photographs that resulted speak of solitude, desolation, and pain. In another series, entitled Apartment, Miyako went in search of tumbledown apartment buildings, like the one her family inhabited when she was growing up. For this evocative series, she documented cramped living conditions and derelict buildings in …