Tomoko Sawada “SKIN”

Dates: January 12 – February 24, 2013
Venue: MEM map
open hours:12:00-20:00 closed on Mondays
tel. +81-(0)3-6459-3205

Artist talk: January 12, 18:00- at MEM,
Guest speaker: Kotaro Iizawa

*Japanese version only

Opening reception will be held at MEM after the talk.

Tomoko Sawada’s new series SKIN was first introduced in a group show at GD4PhotoArt in Bologna, Italy last year. A series of 12 photographs shows the lower half of the bodies of the employees working for Tabio. Tabio is a Japanese socks maker, which influenced female fashion trend in post-war Japan. During the period of high economic growth in the 1960s, pantyhose and other undergarments were introduced and marketed within Japanese culture. Stocking and pantyhose have since then become an emblematic necessity especially among female office workers. Wearing pantyhose in office is regarded as formal gesture in Japan. There are companies that even have a dress code of wearing stockings for female workers at office.

Sawada did a research on Tabio, one of the oldest socks and stocking makers founded in the 1960s, and shot a group of female workers wearing their stockings. Sawada regards stocking as “armor” for Japanese OL (Office Ladies) just like suits for men. According to Sawada, women had to take offensive measures and clad themselves in armor as they became important labor force in the society during that period.

Tomoko Sawada uses photography to explore the relationship between one’s inner life and outer image. Her works borrow compositional devices from familiar photographic formats such as the school portrait, wedding and fashion photography, restaging them in a satirical mode so as to lay bare their various stereotypes and assumptions. Predominantly casting herself in the role of model, Sawada has built an extraordinary cast of characters that present a humorous and incisive portrait of Japanese society. Her works have been presented internationally and are in major public collections including Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, International Center of Photography, New York and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Tomoko Sawada lives and works in Kobe, Japan and New York City.