Yoshiko Shimada at John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong (1997)

Yoshiko Shimada: Female positions

John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong
9 - 23 September 1997

Press release text by John Batten Gallery

Yoshiko Shimada, one of Japan’s leading young artists, will be showing her work between 9 to 23 September in the show Female Positions at John Batten Gallery— continuing the gallery’s emphasis on presenting strong cutting-edge Asia-Pacific art.

Known in Japan and around the world for visually documenting Japan’s past with prints and installation, Shimada has tackled such topics as Japan’s use of World War II sex slaves ("comfort women"), the collaborative role of Japanese women in the war effort, the commercialization of female sexuality, Japan’s role as colonizer of Asia, and Western influences in Asia and its effects on Asian women.

Previously, Yoshiko Shimada has shown her work in Japan, Europe, and North America including shows at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien and Tacheles in Germany; Art Tower Mito, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Keio University, and Ota Fine Arts in Japan; the Power Plant and A Space in Canada. Shimada is very enthusiastic about the upcoming Hong Kong show as she explains: "My work is very relevant in the Asia-Pacific area as it has directly experienced Japan’s militarism." Political expression— especially feminist— has generally been shunned in the Japanese art world, and though her work has been widely written about in a variety of English-language academic publications and in the popular press including Asian Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Art News, and Asian Art News; her art has sometimes been avoided by the Japanese press because of its controversial content and overtly un-Japanese sentiment.

For the show, Yoshiko Shimada will present several of her powerful print etchings based on archival photographs. Works include the controversial Woman Shooting, which shows a kimono-clad "collaborator" in the former colony of Korea, lined up at a firing range, protecting herself from possible attacks by "natives", flanked by burning buildings during Japan’s fall; and Tea and Sympathy, where Shimada contrasts the "good intentions" of Japanese women serving tea to soldiers and indirectly giving donations to former comfort women, while in the background, a victim hauntingly looks out at us. On September 4 Shimada will install her installation Tied to Apron Strings in the gallery— this installation is an evocative reminder of the role Japanese women had in nurturing boys, turned soldiers, who later fought in the war.

Yoshiko Shimada will be visiting Hong Kong and presenting a seminar in the Japanese Department at the University of Hong Kong. Also, on Saturday, 13 September, she will be giving a talk in the gallery on her work—the public is welcome to attend this free artist event.