Feminist art is a rare category of art in Japan. The country got a shockingly large dosage in 2014 when Megumi Igarashi (the ‘vagina kayak’ artist) was arrested for obscenity charges and the story sent ripples across Japan. Now, a new exhibition wants to help the nation ease back into the genre of feminist art by presenting “an intimate snapshot of the diversity, complexity, humor and seriousness of feminist practice in Tokyo and beyond.”
Kate Just, Feminist Fan # 8 (Cosplay: Japanese Bosozuko Meets Sailor Moon, 2013), 2015
“Feminist Fan in Japan and Friends” is a group exhibition that will go on display at the Youkobo Art Space in Ogikubo, Tokyo. The show itself arises out of Australian atist Kate Just’s 2-month residency in at the art space. She’ll be presenting her ongoing series Feminist Fan – knitted self-portraits of over 40 famous women – alongside several other artists in Japan and Asia that she’s connected with or researched during her residency. The group includes the now notorious Igarashi who, accordingly, will be re-enacting some of her court appearances during the opening.
The common theme among the diverse group, says the gallery, is that “in each, the female body and its agency is situated as pivotal to feminist ideas of being, becoming, self-expression and social change.” The show will be on display from February 20th to the 26th (2016) with an opening reception on the 20th from 6-8pm.
Tomorrow Girls Troop, “I love you, even if our surnames are different” 2015, Yoyogi park, Tokyo
Tomorrow Girls Toop, Pool party, 2015 California. The globally active Tomorrow Girls Troop (Japan / Korea / USA) will create an installation with their recent political posters, placards and videos. The work criticizes women’s representation in media, last year’s top court ruling preventing married couples to maintain their respective surnames, and urges that the equality of all sexes is the key to a happier society.
Yoshiko Shimada, a major figure in Japanese feminist art, presents her 2012 video, “Becoming a Statue of a Japanese Comfort Woman,” which seeks to draw attention to the suppressed and silenced history of Japanese comfort women via a performance by the artist outside the Japanese embassy in London.
Kasumi Iwama, Hello Kasumi, 2015. Kasumi Iwama (Japan) creates endearing sculptural work that contends with a dualistic cultural and individual sense of identity garnered from years abroad. Her endearing sculptural work, “Hello Kasumi” draws on Japanese female icon Hello Kitty’s easily won traits of both cuteness and ‘international flair’ as a means to construct an oblique and intimate self-portrait.
Kotoe Ishii presents an untitled video work exploring her return to Japan- after a twelve year period living and studying overseas. In this new work, the artist struggles against inclement weather, a metaphor for Ishii’s attempts to process her residual feelings of displacement and frustration with traditional notions of femininity.
YU Shuk Pui Bobby, New Trend of Porn Magazine, 2015. YU Shuk Pui Bobby (Hong Kong) creates potent and humorous works in response to the incessant commodification of women in media, culture and everyday life. The artist seeks to impart an aspect of subjectivity to the female ‘object.’ To do so she casts her body parts, assigns them their own resume, and makes sexy publications featuring herself as the new “artist” type.
YU Shuk Pui Bobby, You’re so SMALL, so UNIQUE, 2015