Tomoko Sawada “Desire to Mimic”, at MAK, Vienna, until Feb. 6, 2005
This year was very successful for Tomoko Sawada. She just had her second exhibition at Zabriskie Gallery, New York, she received the prestigious Kimura Ihee Award in Tokyo and the International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the category of Young Photographer. Now she has her first solo show at a museum.
At MAK (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art) she exhibits her series “ID 400”, “Costumes” and/or “Omiai”.
“Omiai” is a traditional formal marriage interview for which a set of photographs of the potential bride is produced by a specialized professional photographer. Sawada similarly portrays herself for “Omiai” as thirty different candidates for arranged marriages.
In “Costumes” the focus is “on uniforms and the clothes associated with certain jobs, a theme inspired by her own work experience. She noticed that people’s attitude toward another person changes greatly according to their occupation. She set out to explore this powerful interchange between status, identity and work as symbolized by different uniforms”. (Quote Zabriskie Gallery)
For “ID 400” Sawada did 400 self portraits in a public photo booth with a constantly changed appearance.
I am not sure if “Omiai” is really exhibited at MAK. The English press release talks about “Omiai” and “ID 400” while in contrary the press release in German language mentions “Costumes” and “ID 400”.
From MAK press release:
“In her self portraits the Japanese artist Tomoko Sawada poses herself with self-confidence and irony. The 26 year-old slips into a variety of roles in the tradition of Cindy Sherman. Thus in her photo series, “Omiai” she has herself photographed for a marriage bureau in Tokyo. According to Japanese tradition eligible young women are sent by their families for a session in a photo studio. The “model photos” are then distributed in the hope of a good match. Sawada does not pose as Sawada or at least not quite. She takes on the roles of thirty different women, here in a traditional kimono, there in a business suit reminiscent of her passport photo series “ID 400″. While passport photographs usually identify people, Sawada uses the automatic photo booth in order to conceal her identity. Acting out, she disguises herself fully 400 times in order to settle accounts with current cliches and depictions of women.”