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Miwa Yanagi in the Japanese Pavilion
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Windswept Women
Miwa Yanagi in the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale



In 2004, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin introduced Miwa Yanagi with her first comprehensive museum show; now, she represents her home country at the Venice Biennale. The 1967-born art photographer covered the Japanese Pavilion in a black tent, presenting it as a surreal, apocalyptic nightmare theater. In gigantic, lavishly ornate frames standing freely around the room, Yanagi has inserted digitally altered portraits of monstrous giants. The overwhelming scale of the works, which are over four meters in height, makes viewers appear tiny in comparison. Her Windswept Women not only seem to proclaim the end of the patriarchy, but of the whole of humanity as well. Much like Godzilla, these bare-breasted giants storm the Earth as an archaic force: tossed about by storms, they flatten entire mountain ranges and forests beneath their feet. Yanagi's images of women are both heroic and threatening; they reference a variety of different sources, such as Japanese monster films, European and Asian fairy tales and mythologies, ghost stories, and Russ Meyer's B movies.

Yanagi balances the monumentality of these portraits with an additional installation. In a small velvet tent, she has installed her new video work The Old Girls' Troupe (2009), which shows several female figures themselves wrapped in a tent crossing through a desert landscape. The tent stands for shelter and clothing as well as a part of the body. In order to see the film, visitors have to bend down close to the floor and, like giants, peer into the miniature tent. In the Japanese Pavilion, visitors enter a black and white world in which power relationships and dimensions are temporarily suspended. At the same time, Yanagi presents us with ambivalent images of the end of time that visualize the deepest fears and longings of our seemingly modern society.

In Windswept Women, Yanagi harks back to her series Fairy Tales (2004/05), many works of which were acquired by the Deutsche Bank Collection. Yanagi's works from the corporate collection have been shown in retrospective exhibitions in 2008/2009 at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Beginning in June of 2009, the National Museum of Art in Osaka presents an exhibition of her recent works, including the complete series My Grandmothers, which Yanagi worked on from 1999 through 2008.


Miwa Yanagi: Windswept Women
6/7 - 11/22/2009
Japanese Pavilion, Venice Biennale

Miwa Yanagi: Po-po Nyangnyang!
6/20 - 9/23/2009
National Museum of Art, Osaka




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