Tomoko Sawada: School Days

Friday 13 January – Friday 24 February 2017
Tomoko Sawada: School Days (detail), 2004; courtesy of MEM Tokyo | Tomoko Sawada: School Days | Friday 13 January – Friday 24 February 2017 | The MART Gallery

MART curators Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan, in conjunction with Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund, are delighted to present the exhibition School Days by famed Japanese Artist Tomoko Sawada.

TOMOKO SAWADA (b. 1977 Kobe, Japan) uses photography to explore the relationship between one’s inner life and outer image. Sawada’s works borrow compositional devices from familiar photographic formats – such as the school portrait, weddings, and fashion photography – and restage them in a satirical mode to lay bare their various stereotypes and assumptions.

Contemporary portraiture can communicate various attitudes towards identity, status, individualism, time, place, culture, and other connected ideas of the self. Since the late ‘90s the artist has used her performative self-portrait as a means of opening discussion, or as an enlightening tool for personal discovery, evoking the essence of ‘real’ people within a controlled environment. Sawada’s work has a sense of familiarity, comforting but also unsettling in its realism and closeness. The digital manipulation of her work feels real and her characters, believable. These elements culminate in a photographic document of Japanese society and the individuals that encapsulate it.

Works in Exhibition
Sawada’s filmwork MASK {2006}, a performance to camera, is projected in large format demonstrating the artist’s ability to create striking transformations of her own identity. Her own facial integrity reconstructs through 60 altering faces, as she peels off each new personality one after another. The work acts as an exploration of social, cultural and personal assessment in a contemporary society that pushes female characteristic falsehood and stereotypes on a global interconnected society. Courtesy of MEM, Tokyo, Sawada presents her 2004 work SCHOOL DAYS, through a series of classically framed photographs depicting several large group class portraits. Sawada impersonates hundreds of students in the series along with the typical teacher either side of each group. The series references a tradition of bi yearly photographs taken seasonally in school from Kindergarten right up to High School graduation in Japan. Also on view is selection of Sawada’s 2001 work OMIAI♡. In this photography series Sawada explores the traditional Japanese custom of ‘OMIAI’: a tradition in which individuals are introduced to each other through staged, professional photographs for the possibility of marriage, pending approval of their respective families.

Awards: Sawada has been a recipient of the Grand Prize at the Canon New Cosmos of Photography, the ICP Infinity Hyogo Arts Award and the prestigious Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award.

Exhibitions {Selection}: MEM / Tokyo, Pace/MacGill / New York, Rose Gallery / LA, Kulturhuset / Stockholm, Colette / Paris, Fundacio Joan Miro / Barcelona, MAK / Vienna, Gallerie P / Brussels, Culturgest / Lisbon, Musee de ‘LElyssee / Lausanne, Museum of Contemporary Photography / Chicago, Kawaskaki City Museum, Museum of Modern Art New York, IMMA / Dublin, The Getty Museum / LA.

Permanent Collections {Selection}:  The National Museum of Modern Art / Kyoto, The Getty Museum / LA, Maison Europeenne de la Photographie / Paris, The Museum of Modern Art / New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art / USA, MAK / Wien Austria, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art / USA. Hyogo prefectural Museum of Art / Japan, National Gallery of Art / USA, SAMMLUNG VERBUND / Austria.

Image: Tomoko Sawada: School Days (detail), 2004; courtesy of MEM Tokyo
Friday 13 January – Friday 24 February 2017
The MART Gallery
190a Rathmines Road Lr
Rathmines, Dublin 6
Opening hours / start times:
Opening Hours 1 – 6pm [closed Sundays & Mondays]. Please check the specific event page to check the hours / days / dates for the show.
Admission / price: Free

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