press release

2021.10.16 (Sat.) - 2022.3.13 (Sun.)

Countermeasures Against Awkward Discourses : From the Perspective of Third Wave Feminism

Exhibiting Artists (in Japanese phonetic order). IWANE Ai
HAN Ishu
MIYAGI Futoshi

curator: NAGASHIMA Yurie

In this exhibition our guest curator, the artist NAGASHIMA Yurie, looks at works (including her own) produced by ten artists whose careers began in the 1990s, and offers fresh interpretations of these works from a feminist viewpoint. Nagashima has been producing photographic work and writing since her own art-scene debut in 1993, all the while harboring doubts about the “onnanoko shashin” (girl photography) label sweepingly applied to her and other female photographers of the same generation. Uneasy with the joking images of feminists propagated by the media in the 1980s, the young Nagashima declined to identify as a feminist herself, yet became a consistent challenger of male-centered values. Nagashima sees this kind of attitudee, which had the effect of rendering feminist practice among the younger generation virtually invisible, as one version of Japanese third wave feminism, and asserts that elements of it can also be found in the output of artists who declined to be part of any “movement” or pursuit of “solidarity.” This exhibition showcases works selected following dialogue between Nagashima and the nine other artists, based on this observation.
We hope the diverse offerings in “Countermeasures Against Awkward Discourses,” will give viewers a taste of the great breadth of art practice that can emerge in response to the situations that confront us. Related Events


Guest curator’s Statement
To those of you who do not see yourselves as feminists
In my youth, I never thought of myself as a feminist. The feminists I knew from TV were all academics (smart), or activists (strong), and women much older than me. To my mind there was no way someone of my sort—a dropout from an ostensibly academic high school who had avoided competition by going to art school, and not only lacked the relationship-building confidence required for any kind of fellowship or social movement, but was barely comfortable with the very idea of being female and simply struggling through life—could qualify as a feminist. Nor did I actively desire to become one.
Yet when I finally started making works, invariably those works would reference some sociological issue, and especially, the kind of problems addressed by feminism. Still I failed to declare myself a feminist, or refer to my works as feminist art. In the 1990s there were many artists (across many different genres from the visual arts to music and literature) like me, struggling with life and gambling on self-expression for their survival. Among them were those who proudly called themselves feminists, those who didn't see themselves that way, and those who declared themselves to be definitely not that way. In short, one could say third-wave feminism demonstrated that feminist praxis is not solely the province of “feminists.”
I contacted nine artists that I, the lackluster feminist, arbitrarily viewed as “on the same side” and brought them together with the aim of reinterpreting their respective art practices from a feminist viewpoint. How does a feminist exhibition come about, what kind of people are feminists, what is the relational nature of solidarity, of bonds between associates? I hope you too will enjoy the tentative response to these questions with no right answers clumsily hammered out in our everyday chats, social media exchanges, late-night phone calls and trifling debates.

Yurie Nagashima

Guest curator
Born 1973 in Tokyo. Nagashima made her art-scene debut at an open exhibition while still a student at Musashino Art University, earned her MFA at California Institute of the Arts, then in 2011, embarked on postgraduate studies in humanities at Musashino University, where she delved into the subject of feminism. Her photobook Pastime Paradise won her the 26th Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2001, her short story collection Senaka no Kioku the 26th Kodansha Essay Award and nomination for the 23rd Mishima Yukio Prize in 2010, and multiple contributions to the field of photography the 36th Higashikawa Awards, Domestic Photographer Award in 2020. In parallel with her artistic practice, she contributes as a writer to literary magazines and newspapers, and teachers at university. Published in 2020 are “Bokura“ no “onnanoko shashin” kara watashi-tachi no gārīfoto e” (From “our” (male) onnanoko shashin to our (female) girly photos), and the photobook Self-Portraits.