Exhibitions: Global Feminisms

Ryoko Suzuki: Bind

Ryoko Suzuki (Japanese, b. 1970). Bind, 2001. Lambda print. Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. (Photo: Courtesy of Zeit-Foto Salon, Tokyo)

In her Bind series, Ryoko Suzuki wraps her head with tightly wound pigskin that has been soaked in blood. The pigskin refers to the artist's childhood memories, specifically of an English fairytale, Three Little Pigs, written by Joseph Jacobs. Blood symbolizes female sexuality and the artist's poignant transition from adolescence to womanhood. As the skin is tightly wrapped around her head, her features become warped, almost unrecognizable. Within the Emotions section of the exhibition, Bind stands as a symbol for pain, constriction, and the abject female body.

The idea of "pig is cute" was implanted in me by adults through a cartoon, the "Three Little Pigs." However, breeding pigs I saw at a pig farm, when I was a child, were so huge and ferocious that I could never find any cuteness in them. That was the first time I realized that the fairytale world was far from the reality, and I felt betrayed by adults. That is why I employ the "Three Little Pigs" as a symbol of lies and fictions given by adults, which become exposed sooner or later in the process of a child's growth.

The "Bind" series expresses my inner self; a grown-up who left the world given by my parents and other adults and acquired my own thinking, and a woman who has to deal with the female sexuality. In the series, I bound myself with pigskin, which has been soaked in blood as a symbol of womanhood, as a symbol of the given world. I was thinking of my life, in which I had transformed from a child who just took what adults provided, to a woman who led her own life, while I wrapped up my eyes, nose, mouth, and ears with the pigskin. The series is a record of this action.

—Ryoko Suzuki