Tomoko Sawada: Two Photographic Series
Zabriskie presents the first solo exhibition in New York of Tomoko Sawada's photographic work. In the tradition of Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, and more recently Nikki Lee, Sawada plays a host of characters and identities in her self-portraits. With each new get-up she transforms into someone else.
In the ID-400 series, reminiscent of Andy Warhol's photo-booth portraits from the 1960s, Sawada used a public photo booth to create an "army of me," - but not me. She spent weeks continually changing her physical appearance and dress to invent a total of four hundred different new identities. The facial characteristics and expressions are so varied and elastic in these candid shots that they become in of themselves a subtle study of physiognomy.
For the series Omiai, Sawada similarly portrays herself as thirty different candidates for arranged marriages. In this long Japanese tradition, potential brides dressed in formal attire go to have their pictures taken at a professional portrait studio. The parents subsequently exchange and distribute these cards to other families and relatives in hopes of finding a suitable husband for their daughter. In traditional kimono or business suit, Sawada again forces our eyes into doubletake. As with ID-400, the artist relinquishes traditional control of the shutter release and, instead, chooses to use a ready-made camera/photographer, here in the form of a real portrait studio.
Tomoko Sawada lives and works in Japan. Recently, her works were exhibited in prominent group shows at ICP and the Japan Society.