Explore a series of Video Interviews with artists Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Rinko Kawauchi, Tomoko Sawada, Ishiuchi Miyako, Asako Narahashi and others in light of the exhibition "Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now" on SFMOMA online here:
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Alicia Eler writes, "Spanning over eighty years of photographs, an exhibition explores the gender non-conforming potential of the word 'they.'
The singular gender-neutral pronoun “they” was named word of the year in 2016. Judging from the social and historical depth of photography and archival imagery in the exhibition He/She/They, currently on view at ROSEGALLERY, which includes work by more than fifteen artists, it’s crazy to think that it took this long to get American culture at large to recognize life outside the gender binary. Ranging from the early 1930s to the present, the works exhibit a wide array of bodies, locations, gazes, and socioeconomic perspectives, and consider the intersectional influence of race and class on notions of gender.
Since this exhibition is presented in Los Angeles, Lise Sarfati’s Malaïka #7, Corner 7th Street and Spring from the series On Hollywood (2010), is appropriately local and captures a woman trying to make it in the entertainment industry. In this startling photograph, a young woman appears forlorn, perhaps returning from an audition, unsure of what to do next. The actress’s face, and the low-angle perspective, is reminiscent of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #21 (1978), in which a young woman, who could be any (white) woman, looks intently beyond the frame, with an imposing block of skyscrapers forming the background. Marrying visual art and Hollywood icons, her dress and hairstyle reference Marilyn Monroe and the “dumb blonde” archetype.
...Other works in the show focus less on the performance of gender, and more on people who defy normative gender distinctions. Nineteenth-century photographs depict Native American “two-spirit” individuals—those who participate in gender roles not assigned to their sex—but the accompanying text explains that intersex, androgynous, and gender non-conforming people could be held in high regard outside of Eurocentric, heteronormative cultures. In photographs by Mexican artist Graciela Iturbide, Magnolia, who identified as Muxe (Zapotec for homosexual and “genderqueer”), poses for the camera wearing a dress and sombrero, a traditionally male accessory.
He/She/They leans heavily on the visual language of portraiture, which might suggest a desire for authenticity in documentation, in contrast to much of the dynamic content found online, where self-expression by social media sensations, celebrities, and everyday people appears to be constantly evolving. The photographs in this show offer a fixed moment in time, declarative and definitive, but also remain open to the many shades of identity, the gender non-conforming potential of the word “they.”
Alicia Eler is a journalist based in Los Angeles. A contributor to New York Magazine, The Guardian,VICE, LA Weekly, Hyperallergic, Art21, and Artforum, she is currently working on her first book,The Selfie Generation (Skyhorse).
He/She/They is on view at ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica, through November 12, 2016."
Read the full review on aperture.org/blog!
Tomoko Sawada, Rinko Kawauchi, as well as Yasumasa Morimura, Leiko Shiga and Ishiuchi Miyako will be on view in Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now at the SFMOMA this fall.
15 October, 2016 - 12 March, 2017, Floor 3
Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now includes photographs from the 1960s, when major figures such as Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama investigated Americanization and industrial growth; the more personal and performative work of Nobuyoshi Araki and Eikoh Hosoe; and photography addressing the present culture and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Organized thematically, the show explores topics such as Japan’s relationship with America, changes in the city and countryside, and the emergence of women, especially Miyako Ishiuchi, Rinko Kawauchi, and Lieko Shiga, as significant contributors to contemporary Japanese photography.
Read more on SFMOMA.org
"While living in America years ago, Japanese visual artist Tomoko Sawada was often told that she "looked Korean, Chinese, or a number of other East Asian ethnicities."
That experience inspired her to launch an exhibition called Facial Signature. It is now on display in Los Angeles, California. Our reporter Patrice Howard went to take a look.
Close your eyes. Now picture a woman from Japan. Picture a woman from China. Picture a woman from Korea. You probably found it's quite impossible to imagine what a person looks like by simply by grouping them with other people who share the same background.
The fact is humans are unique, even those who come from a similar cultures or countries. And that's that point Japanese Artist Tomoko Sawada is making with her latest art exhibit. She has taken 300 self-portraits. But not one of them looks the same.
"When people see my work they talk about like, 'Oh she looks like my niece, or she looks like my friend,' They see themselves, and they also have sympathy..."
On the wall of a Los Angeles art gallery, 300 perfectly framed photos of Tomoko wearing over 100 wigs and a variety of makeup colors hang for passersby to take in.
"Usually I wear the wigs and get idea of what face she has and then I change my face by makeup."
Some show Tomoko with short hair, dark eyes and a solemn gaze. In other shots, she is smiling, with bangs. It's a reminder that differences are only skin deep.
Rose Shoshana is the owner of ROSEGALLERY, in Santa Monica California.
"99.999 percent of all of us are identical and there's one gene that makes us little bit different from the other. Walking through this exhibition of 300 images would you really be able to pick out and say for sure that's Japanese, for certain that's gotta be Malaysian. You really can't."
Rose says Tomoko realized while living in New York found that even in one of the most ethnically diverse urban environments, people tried to characterize her as being from somewhere, as someone different. With this exhibit, she is challenging those perceptions.
Rose believes the statement Tomoko is making with her exhibit - to celebrate differences - is timely in America right now.
"There are certain things Mr. Trump is saying that are so divisive so hateful. We need to respect our differences and to acknowledge and kind of celebrate the differences."
Science shows we, as humans, are more alike than we are different, and it seems Tomoko tapped into that with her Facial Signature exhibit. She says her work is simply art, but it seems here in America Tomoko's latest work about acceptance is making quite a statement.
Patrice Howard in Los Angeles for CNTV"
EXHIBITION: Tomoko Sawada at ROSEGALLERY, Santa Monica
"Of course behind Tomoko Sawada’s performance, those 300 faces staring at you, act like a boomerang toward your own identity. And you ended up asking to yourself what if I were blond, or red or long hair or whatever shape, would my life be different? Would I be different as a person? Very smart indeed. A must be seen"
Be-Art Magazine recently covered the Exhibition Facial Signature, detailing the nuances between individual portraits as extraordinary. Visit their website at beartmagazine.com to read more.
Our installation for Tomoko Sawada's Facial Signature exhibition is our best one to date! The exhibition features 300 unique self-portraits, framed and displayed as a grid. Today we are sharing a behind-the-scenes time-lapse video and a flip-through of the book of the same series.
Watch from our Vimeo below:
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Sharon Mitzota reviewed Tomoko Sawada's Facial Signature Exhibition for the LA Times on 3 March.
"Tomoko Sawada has photographed herself relentlessly, dressing up Cindy-Sherman-style as schoolgirls, twins, brides or other characters since the mid-1990s. Her new work at ROSEGALLERY, “Facial Signature,” consists of 300 self-portraits that are remarkable for how Sawada achieves variation within very narrow parameters: the American notion of “the Asian woman. . .The repetition leads to a much less sanguine conclusion that despite our personal styling, to America, Asian women all still look alike.”
Read the article in it's entirety HERE.