Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori has a vast collection of work which you can see samples of below. Most of her work concerning identity and gender in Japan. There is also a common theme of science fiction. On a surface level I would say influenced by Japans geek culture or Otaku culture and technology. I want to dig deeper into the meaning behind the images. Is she using her work to make people question the society they live in? or is it more of a personal protest, being different because no one else dares too.

In the best works, like Subway (1994), the public reaction to Mori’s performance adds the realism that I so desperately crave whenever I find myself inundated by the in-again-out-again world of fashion. In Subway, Mori found herself having to utilise a fish-eye lens because the commuters who thought they would be in the frame sheepishly slid out of the camera’s view. Interestingly, despite the fact that there is a woman in a Space 1999 suit signalling to some far-off planet, nobody on the train is looking at her; instead they prefer to avoid involvement through consumption of more staid media (like newspapers or adverts).

– http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/24back2_mariko_mori/

She is a fine artist making politically motivated commentary but the outcome was beautifully ‘Pop’ and accessible in its dreamy, colourful, cartoony sheen. Her futuristic plastic doll costume complete with Manga blue hue hair is perfectly put together.

– http://isysarchive.tv/on-pioneers-mariko-mori/

The theatrical setting and costuming of her early photographs undeniably reflect the trends in Japanese popular culture, especially that of adolescent Japanese girls, known as shōjo culture.

In each of the Tokyo photographs Mori is a self-constructed idol, or idoru, ubiquitous in the world of J-Pop,anime or digital gaming.[5] These idols reflect the pastime of cosplay (kosupure, or costume playing) that has been popular amongst Japanese urban youth since the mid-1990s.

In Love hotel (1994), a uniformed schoolgirl kneels on a circular bed in a themed room. Concealed inside a silver unitard with angular ears this idoru is suggestive of Tezuka Osamu’s universal robotic hero Tetsuwan Atomu, or Astro Boy (1951–1967).[6] The mise en scène is potent with ambiguity as Mori’s idol asserts a youthful naïvety and vulnerability. This Lolita does not recline submissively on the hotel bed nor provocatively engage with the viewer. In Red light (1994), the idol wears a shimmering pink dress and pointy-eared silver unitard. Standing amidst the neon lights and signage of Kabuki-chō back streets (a well-known ‘pink’ or red light district of Tokyo) the idol takes a call on a mobile phone. Like the photographs of Yanagi Miwa,[7] Mori’s generic settings and cute idoru are dramatic and relatively formulaic. In retrospect, we can see that the work of artists such as Yanagi and Mori coincided with the global promotion and popularity of Japanese subcultures, in particular anime and manga. Mori’s cyborg lovers appear to perpetuate the entertainment industries’ use of the female body as a site of desire and pleasure—a stereotype that many young women photographers challenged throughout the late 1990s as social conditions in Japan changed.

– http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue23/holland.htm

In Tea Ceremony III (1994), Play With Me (1995) and Subway (1994), Mori makes use of traditional female roles and then adds non-traditional details in order to critique the positioning of women within Japanese culture.

According to Mori, her earlier work concentrated on social criticism, addressing issues
of modern-day Japan.

– http://www.rachelschreiber.com/pdfs/CyborgsAvatarsLaaLaaPo.pdf

Mori’s work has been written about a lot, her visual interpretation of Japanese culture seemed to be shocking and new at the time of production. It’s interesting that one text compares her work to that of Miwa Yanagi, another photographer I have been looking at recently. I feel with relation to my project Mori’s work could take me down a hole new route, tackling identity and pop culture idols. But her work doesn’t openly tackle ideas of sex and cuteness which is the area I have decided to focus on.Perhaps the only image that does is Love Hotel (see below) however I will continue my search for other photographers as I am not keen to clutch at straws.

Miwa Yanagi

I have mentioned Miwa Yanagi’s work a lot but never looked at it as a collective. So this is a post to contain it all, pick her most relevant series and find analysis and interpretations of her work.

Elevator Girl
1994-1998

The White Casket(4pieces) 1994
Aquajenne in Paradise Ⅱ 1995
A Transient World 2F 1997
Before and After a Dream 1997
Elevator Girl House B4 1998

See the full series here… http://www.yanagimiwa.net/e/elevator/index.html

The previous series, Elevator Girls, shows identically clothed female models, mostly posing in groups in a half-fictional, urban architecture whose anonymity and exchangeability corresponds to the situation of the protagonists. According to Miwa Yanagi, the photos of this series “are about myself as well as other Japanese women. When I started the series, I was working as a teacher after graduating from university. Back then, I strongly felt that I was just playing a role in a standardized society, having a particular occupation in a particular setting. I did not work as an elevator girl literally, but the idea resonated in me in a symbolic way.”

– http://www.deutsche-guggenheim.de/e/ausstellungen-yanagi01.php

The whole time I have been researching this project I have pictured the series Elevator Girl as being part of it, however I don’t think it corresponds with the link to cute culture, this series is more about women in the work place, and whilst interesting I think the series would be distracting. I am determined to remain focussed on one area. Her Grandmother series seems to be more appropriate for the discussion of consumption and cute culture.

My Grandmothers

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 13.39.32
Screen grab from ‘My Grandmothers’ website
MINAMI. 2000
HIROKO. 2001
MIKA. 2001
HYONEE. 2007

This series explores how young women see their lives in 50 years in the role of the grandmother. As you can see none of the images depict “traditional” family depiction’s. Rarely do the scenarios involve any children or grandchildren. This comments on the future for a generation thats grown up with consumerism and sex a common theme throughout the images. Pop culture is synonymous within the series, being on TV, being a model owning a theme park are all ambitions for these young women.

Tokyo Tremors: Four New Waves in Japanese Contemporary Art

Tokyo Tremors
Four New Waves in Japanese Contemporary Art

Tokyo Tremors is a lecture and discussion with Adrian Favell which took place at UCLA on June 11th. It explores the 4 new waves of contemporary art in Japan.

You can read the full summary here, for the moment I will be looking at just one section which is relevant to my research.

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/favell/RoyalTevent.pdf

A second wave focuses on the unique girl culture thriving in Japan today. While girls feature everywhere
in Japanese contemporary art – particularly in the adolescent styles of Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki artists –
other more independent women are striking a bolder, autonomous pose that is questioning gender
identity and roles in Japanese society, while celebrating their growing consumer power. This art has used
the camera as its main medium, influenced by popular street photography, as much as the extraordinary
innovations of the Japanese fashion world. Key artists here include Mika Ninagawa, Mikiko Hara, Miwa
Yanagi, Tomoko Sawada and Pyuupiru.

Miwa Yanagi also featured in the Bye Bye Kitty exhibition I wrote about, and whilst her and these artists focus on the role of the woman it is important to explore such a controversial new movement which opposes Japanese popular culture.

I am trying my hardest to get hold of a copy of the talk and to get into contact with Adrian Favell, the speaker. For now I will look at the work of practitioners mentioned and gain as greater knowledge as I can from that.

Mika Ninagawa

Mikiko Hara

Miwa Yanagi

Tomoko Sawada

Pyuupiru