Tomoko Sawada: Decoration:
FROM MAY 13th to JUNE 27th, 2008, ZABRISKIE GALLERY EXHIBITS NEW WORK BY TOMOKO SAWADA. Tomoko Sawada is a Japanese photographer working primarily in self-portraiture. She uses performance, make-up and costume to explore issues of identity and belonging.
Her latest series, Decoration, features the artist dressed in the manner of a recent fashion trend among Japanese girls, called Gothic-Lolita. She digitally combines two images of herself in these costumes into a single image on a blank white background.
Sawada’s work has long explored the tension between outer image and inner truth, using her own body as a stage on which to build different identities. As with her earlier series, ID400 and School Days, Decoration finds Sawada inserting herself into new identities. Here the artist presents herself in the current fashion of Japanese girls: a mixture of coquettishness and teen-angst, rolled into one cute and consumable package. The immaculate white backgrounds, echoing the crispness of the fabric and the freshness of the style, contribute to the anonymous availability of the subject. The entire production gains the quality of hermetically-sealed products— the innocent smiles are as passively inviting as rows of consumer-goods.
Unlike Sawada’s earlier work, Decoration is not a costume or a false identity – it is an obliteration of identity. The word “decoration” suggests frivolity, the shallow adornment of something more substantial beneath. The cloying poses in these pictures, however, leave the viewer to wonder how deep they must dig to get to the substance below the decoration— and what that substance will be is anyone’s guess. Having long played with the process of identification, Sawada now eludes it entirely.
Tomoko Sawada was born in 1977 in Kobe, Japan. She attended Seian University of Art and Design, completing degrees in Media Design and Photography. She has been included in numerous group shows in Japan, Europe and the US. Her first solo exhibition in the US was at Zabriskie Gallery in 2003. In 2004 she was awarded the prestigious Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award for Young Japanese Photographer as well as the International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the category of Young Photographer. Her work is in many collections and museum, including the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.