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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Ryoko Suzuki

chuo-ku,
japan

Ryoko Suzuki (b. 1970) was born in Hokkaido, Japan. She graduated from Junior College of Art of Musashino Art University, Tokyo, in 1990, and from Sokei Academy of Fine Art, Tokyo, in 1994. She has had solo shows in Sapporo at Art Space201, Continental Gallery, and Daido Gallery, as well as in Tokyo at Zeit-Foto Salon and Kiritama Gallery. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Arai Memorial Art Museum, Iwanai; Fundbureau, Hamburg; the Consulate General of the United States of America; the Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Yubali Museum; CAI Gallery, Sapporo; Sapporo Citizen Gallery; Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sapporo; Seoul Museum of Art; and Stadtgalerie Kiel, Germany. She also participated in the Shanghai Biennale in 2004. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. She lives and works in Sapporo.

Feminist Artist Statement

Japan is still a male dominant society. I was born in 1970, and Law for Equal Employment Opportunity of Men and Women passed the Diet in 1985. Since then, Japanese women has been supposed to get an equal opportunity to be successful in work filed.

But what happened to Japanese women after two decades was the severe working situation under the name of equality. A doctor told me that some women come to the hospital for IV drip in order to work as hard as men, even after the midnight. The doctor asked them why they do not take time off, and they said “if I would do that, male workers say ‘see, women are useless.’” Obviously, some companies take advantage of the law to assign more work on female workers.

Looking back at the process of its making, I think the work is my attempt to take charge of myself and my life for the first time. Before I created this work, I had only been living the time and life that was bestowed upon me by society. This work functions as a record of my behavior, and it affirms that I will be living as an agency of my own. In this way, I can also say that the work serves as a record of my spiritual awakening and independence.

<p>Sweat 6 from the series ANIKORA</p>

Sweat 6 from the series ANIKORA

The ANIKORA series is a collage of facial images placed on top of stereoscopic bodies of “pretty girl characters” from the Japanese animation market.This concept was derived from “AIKORA” which combines the face of a celebrity with a woman’s body. This strange character in ANIKORA meant to reflect the image of the masculine sexual drive. The character brandishes masculine will power from within while marking use of the body, destined to be passive, to coerce the audience into having an impression of inconvenience.

Sweat 6 from the series ANIKORA

The ANIKORA series is a collage of facial images placed on top of stereoscopic bodies of “pretty girl characters” from the Japanese animation market.This concept was derived from “AIKORA” which combines the face of a celebrity with a woman’s body. This strange character in ANIKORA meant to reflect the image of the masculine sexual drive. The character brandishes masculine will power from within while marking use of the body, destined to be passive, to coerce the audience into having an impression of inconvenience.

Bind

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 pigskins, which have been soaked in blood as a symbol of womanhood, as a symbol of the given world. I was thinking and feeling of my life, in which I had transformed from a child who just took what adults provided to a woman who leaded her own life, while I wrapped up my eyes, nose, mouth, and ears with the pigskin. The series is a record of consideration with the action.

Childhood

Almost everyday, Japanese newspapers and TV report child abuse cases. I wonder how many children are crying because not only of physical cruelty but also of emotional abuse. The children’s clothes, which are made of half-transparent material, silicon, symbolize the innocence of children. The color of the clothes reflects the background color that represents adults. I express the wordless anguish of the victims through filthy, torn clothes made of colorless silicon.

Human Being

The media that we see every day has been providing stereotyped images such as beautiful young slender women and healthy men with developed muscles as if they are average people. It makes real people feel guilty because most of them do not meet the standard. However, does the image made up by the media reflect the essential beauty of human beings?

The models of my work, ‘human being,’ are old couples, lean brothers who are less masculine by the standard, and blue-collar workers with flabby buttocks. They are completely different from the stereotyped images on the media, but I cannot deny their inner beauty. I would like to express the beauty and the greatness that should be found in every single person.

What does the Japanese society work toward, which abnormally lionizes youth? Overcoming our prejudices, we need to face the reality with eyes wide open.

Masturbation

My works use myself as a subject. The reason I used myself as a subject is that I felt that since the face is the most expressive part, it could perhaps serve as the portal to communication between myself and society.This is not communication that begins with words, but a vague sensation-like element called feeling or impression that you have when you first meet someone else, and which becomes the first step toward judging the other. Regarding my face, which serves as the portal, I photographed memory, pain, restoration, and time, all overlapped. In addition, the figure made by own hand to disclose to someone else made me feel a self-torturing pleasure. I added something to the vague expression of the face, transformed myself, and literally eliminated some points that could be used to recognize me, because I wanted to have the sensation of what was left.

For me, silicone was a second skin. On the surface of the semi-transparent silicone, the texture of my skin was imprinted, and it became like the remains of layer upon layer of sloughed-off skin.

In the work, Masturbation, while they all represent a single self in a passage of time from past to present, a me with two faces (=skins) is portrayed. Covering the past with the present, the flow of time is locked in some secret room. The very acts of imprinting, erasing, locking up, and disclosing themselves become the subject of masturbation.

Rituko-takumi from the series Mama Doll

My series, Mama Doll focuses on the Japanese Family system. Many Japanese fathers have little interest in their families and spend a lot of time outside the home. This means that Japanese mothers have a lot of power within the home and they use it to control and discipline their children.

I used photographs of real families for the Mama Doll series. I slightly changed the hair and shoulder line only, but I did not change the facial features at all. It is very interesting to see how similar the mothers, daughters and sons are, I was very surprised.

SEIFUKU 1 from the series ANIKORA

The serial work entitled ANIKORA employs Japanese anime-girl-type ‘Figures.’ The figures in the first series are naked or nearly naked, but the ones in the second series wear several kinds of uniforms (including a French maid costume) that are commonly seen in Japanese animations.

I wonder why these figures in such uniforms which are special clothes made for teenage girls, in other words, molds imposed by adults for a limited time look more seductive than the figures in a state of nudity.

The animations, which create a virtual world and stimulate people’s imagination, gain popularity so much in Japan. I cannot deem this Japanese situation to be a cultural decline, but I think I need to watch the direction that people’s desire is taking.

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matsumoto Bldg.4F 1-10-5, Kyobashi
chuo-ku,
japan

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