artscape Japan
artscape Japanese site
Monthly Mail Contact Us
HOME FOCUS  PICKS MUSEUM DB ABOUT
image
image
image HOME > FOCUS > Through a Lens Sharply: Six Women Photographers at Shiseido Gallery
image
Focus: More Focus
image
image
image

Focus features two in-depth reviews each month of fine art, architecture, and design exhibitions at art museums, galleries, and alternative spaces around Japan.

image
image image Through a Lens Sharply: Six Women Photographers at Shiseido Gallery
Jennifer Pastore
image

The cosmetics brand Shiseido has long been an advocate of artists with rising stars. The current show at its Ginza gallery, Anneke Hymmen & Kumi Hiroi, Tokuko Ushioda, Mari Katayama, Maiko Haruki, Mayumi Hosokura, and Your Perspectives, features up-and-coming photographers. Anneke Hymmen & Kumi Hiroi work as a pair reconstructing the language and imagery of advertising; Tokuko Ushioda photographs books and their environments; Mari Katayama, co-winner of the most recent Kimura Ihei Award, takes self-portraits with her prostheses and hand-sewn objects; Maiko Haruki questions what it means to "see" in obscurely framed, over- and under-exposed shots; Mayumi Hosokura explores notions of boundaries and the body. This exhibition dedicates separate spaces to each artist/unit and leaves it up to the viewer to fill in the blanks about connections and cohesive meanings -- hence the "and your perspectives" in the title. What the works all share is a sharpness of ideas and techniques.

image

Exhibition view with a video installation by Mayumi Hosokura at center, photographs by Hosokura on the left wall, and photographs by Mari Katayama on the right wall.

Hymmen & Hiroi present ten photographs accompanied by texts written on the wall. The duo has created new images based on advertisements without seeing the original ads, going only on key phrases describing them. A Shiseido ad shows a woman dressed in red with red lipstick striding boldly down the street. In a photograph to its left, another woman, also wearing red but with no makeup, stares unapologetically into the camera. The text on the wall (in Japanese) reads: "Which has a feeling of confidence? The red lipstick? Or no lipstick?" The "answer" is a matter of perspective, of course, but in this way, Hymmen & Hiroi make us question our assumptions about beauty, commercialism, womanhood, and the images we project.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Hymmen & Hiroi's contribution to the show comes from QR codes on the wall, which link to pages with dialogues between the two artists and short stories by photography essayist Akiko Otake, who imagines narratives based on the images. English is provided by the skilled literary translator Polly Barton.

image

Right: Shiseido Ultimune poster, "With One Another. Without Limits. Our Future Is Beautiful." (2020). Photo: Sebastian Kim; model: Beverly Maeda. Left: Anneke Hymmen & Kumi Hiroi, Remodeling: Shiseido Gallery edition (2020), 52.5 x 35 cm, C Print.

Maiko Haruki deliberately under- or over-exposes her photographs to create blocks of black and white. She also shows an interest in treating photographs as objects. For this show, she has installed a white wall with square holes cut into it. One side of the wall is blank while the other side intersperses the openings with Haruki's photographs. These works come from three series of C prints: okinawa, I never know that I know, and A certain composition of eyes. The images offer glimpses of scenes taken from a range of angles -- doorframes, people by the water, taxidermied animals at Tokyo's National Museum of Nature and Science. Like the wall itself, these works demonstrate her tendency to obscure the main subject, which gets to the multifaceted nature of how much we actually perceive when we view something. Haruki has stated: "I want people to think about what 'look' actually means . . . 'Look' can be understood in many different ways such as observe, view, or regard. Since I couldn't express it well in words, I used photographs to show it." By pointing to what we're missing when we assume we "see" the entirety of something, Haruki widens our perspective. Her work can also be seen at the Domani exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo through 7 March.

image

Maiko Haruki, installation view (Shiseido Gallery).

Mayumi Hosokura, an increasingly acclaimed figure on Japan's photography scene, also concerns herself with the limitations of our viewpoints. Her recent series newskin presents digitally collaged images of male sculptures, gay magazine pages, and internet selfies along with videos of these shots before they were spliced and rearranged. As the exhibition materials explain, the photographs and videos "complement each other to present the original photographs, but it is not possible to grasp the whole picture at a glance, which seems to indicate the difficulty of 'seeing.'"

Newskin also continues with Hosokura's interest in humanity's "borders," whether they be between genders or organic states. Her previous work Transparency Is the New Mystery juxtaposed photographs of nudes and crystal formations, highlighting the ephemeral nature of both organic and mineral matter. Newskin, also in black and white, seems to suggest that gender, sexuality -- and maybe even our concepts of humanity -- are constructions that can be adapted, donned, and shed.

image

Mayumi Hosokura, newskin (2020), installation view (Shiseido Gallery).

Mari Katayama, too, is interested in trying things on. Born with a condition called tibial hemimelia that stunted her leg development and gave her a cleft palm, she makes costumes and objects to go with her prostheses, photographing herself with these creations in self-portraits. Having fashioned herself as characters from literature and art, such as Shakespeare's Ophelia and Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Katayama views her work as a type of fantasy-based role-play or a performance of identity. This exhibition features her series shadow puppet, which shows her striking various poses and personas and doing shadow play with her hands. The works have an ambience of mystery that allows us to imagine Katayama as anyone she might invent or reinvent herself as. She seems to be a puppet master of her own image.

image

Clockwise, from top left: Mari Katayama, shadow puppet #016, shadow puppet #017, shadow puppet #014 (Collection of Mitsuru Shimazu), shadow puppet #015 (all 2016).

Tokuko Ushioda documents objects. With Ice Box she photographed refrigerators from several households. For Bibliotheca, the series exhibited here, for which she received the Domon Ken Award, she spent over two decades photographing books as art objects in settings including libraries, private collections, and publishing offices. The 20 works chosen for display at Shiseido reflect her ideas about boundaries and being female. Subjects include books describing a woman appearing as a character in a Japanese fairy tale, a Hawaiian woman encountered on Captain Cook's voyages, and a philanderer's diary resented by his wife. Be sure to read the descriptions of each photo linked to the QR code. Ushioda's blending of subject and context and historical fact with personal accounts makes these poetic images even more intriguing.

image

Tokuko Ushioda, Bibliotheca (2005); from L'art de créer les jardins (1835), a book by Narcisse Vergnaud about French gardens with pop-up illustrations.

Shiseido Gallery is to be commended for bringing together such a diverse and talented group of photographers. Some, like Haruki and Hosokura, take an oblique approach to the gaze, while others, such as Hymmen & Hiroi and Katayama, tackle their subjects head-on. From my perspective, the acuity of concepts and the richness of creativity are the common denominators of the show. These photographs reveal to us how porous boundaries -- whether between images and realities, countries and cultures, or ourselves and others -- can be. Walking through each section opens up new worlds that make us feel connected with a larger one.


All photographs courtesy of Shiseido Gallery.


image
Anneke Hymmen & Kumi Hiroi, Tokuko Ushioda, Mari Katayama, Maiko Haruki, Mayumi Hosokura, and Your Perspectives
16 January - 18 April 2021
Shiseido Gallery
image
image
Jennifer Pastore
Jennifer Pastore is a Tokyo-based art fan and translator. In addition to Artscape Japan, her words have appeared in ArtAsia Pacific, Sotheby's, and other publications. She is an editor at Tokyo Art Beat.
image
More Focus
image
image
image
Recent Articles
FOCUS
Lost in Space: A Stroll through the Heisei Debris
Colin Smith
1 April 2021
FOCUS
Crossing Paths: A Collaborative Exploration between Writer and Architect
James Lambiasi
1 April 2021
HERE/THERE
Naoto Ogura: Painting as Meditation
Alan Gleason
1 April 2021
PICKS
Tomoko Sawada: To Be Bewitched by a Fox
1 April 2021
FOCUS
Through a Lens Sharply: Six Women Photographers at Shiseido Gallery
Jennifer Pastore
1 March 2021
FOCUS
Hiroshi Yoshida: Scaling the Heights of Expression
J.M. Hammond
1 March 2021
HERE/THERE
Giving Art a Listen at Arts Maebashi
Alan Gleason
1 March 2021
PICKS
Kashiwa Sato
1 March 2021
>> Back Issues
image
image
THIS IS MECENAT 2020
ggg ddd CCGA DNP Museum Lab DNP Kyoto Uzumasa Cultural Heritage Gallery Maison des Musées du Monde
DNP Art Communications ©1996- DAI NIPPON PRINTING Co., Ltd.
artscape is the registered trademark of DAI NIPPON PRINTING Co., Ltd.