Tomoko Sawada "SKIN"
January 12 - February 24, 2013
venue: MEM map open hours：12:00-20:00 closed on Mondays tel. 03-6459-3205
Tomoko Sawada’s new series SKIN was first introduced in a group show at GD4PhotoArt in Bologna, Italy last year. A series of 12 photographs shows the lower half of the bodies of Tabio employees. Founded in the 1960s, Tabio is one of the oldest socks and stockings labels in Japan, where the brand’s designs influenced female fashion trends of the post-war era. During this period of high economic growth, pantyhose and other undergarments were introduced and marketed within Japanese culture. Stockings and pantyhose have since then become emblematic necessities, especially among female office workers. Wearing pantyhose in an office environment is regarded as a formal gesture in Japan. There are companies that even include stockings in their dress codes for female employees.
Sawada conducted research on Tabio, and shot a group of female workers wearing their stockings. Sawada regards stockings as “armor” for Japanese OL (Office Ladies), as suits may analogously be considered for men. It is Sawada’s opinion that women were obliged to take offensive measures and clad themselves in armor, as they became an important labor force in society during the 1960s.
Tomoko Sawada uses photography to explore the relationship between one’s inner life and outer image. Her works borrow compositional devices from familiar photographic formats such as the school portrait or wedding and fashion photography, restaging them in a satirical mode so as to lay bare their various stereotypes and assumptions. Predominantly casting herself in the role of the model, Sawada has built an extraordinary cast of characters that present a humorous and incisive portrait of Japanese society. Her works have been presented internationally and are in major public collections including Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, International Center of Photography, New York and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Tomoko Sawada lives and works in New York City and Kobe, Japan.
Text and image courtesy of MEM.