Miwa Yanagi at the Deutsche
From January 31
through March 28, 2004, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin presents the
work of Miwa Yanagi, born in Kobe in 1967. It's the first time
Yanagi has had a solo show in a museum setting. Her portraits of women
enigmatically illuminate the daily reality of modern Japan and connect it
to a surreal vision of the future.
Miwa Yanagi: Mineko, 2002,
Bank Collection, © Miwa Yanagi
Yanagi's series stem from a precise observation of Japanese society and
use as central themes roles, appearances and group affiliations,
particularly in regard to the ways women live and think. The artist's
research, based on memories, ideas and illusions, is reflected in several
large series, of which the Guggenheim exhibition is showing
Elevator Girls (1993 - 99) and
My Grandmothers (from 1999 onwards), as well as a few early examples
from 1994 and three very new photographic works.
computer-manipulated images are visual syntheses of digital photographs
and computer-generated visual elements, which are turned into remarkably
realistic compositions. The visions of space thus created no longer have
anything in common with the reality from which they originally stem.
Elevator Girls shows identically uniformed young
women posing in utopia-like enclosed spaces. The women seem anonymous and
interchangeable, with no individual characteristics. The situations
presented are nightmarishly enraptured, yet reflect the artist's own
experiences: "After completing my university studies, I worked as a
teacher and began this series during that time. Back then, I felt quite
strongly that I was simply playing a role in a standardized society. I did
specific work in a specific environment. I didn't actually work as an
'elevator girl,' but it seemed to me like I did. They were a symbol for
me. They represented me and my situation."
Miwa Yanagi: Geisha (Akiyo, Mai, Hitomo, Noriko), 2002,
Deutsche Bank Collection © Miwa Yanagi
My Grandmothers, Yanagi changes the starting-point for her
explorations. Here, the individual, with her wishes and ideas, is at the
center. Asked how they saw themselves in 50 years, women between the ages
of 20 and 30 described their visions of being old. Miwa Yanagi presents
these ideas as visions of a world in which people look old, yet continue
to pursue youthful lifestyles. Alongside the photographs are statements
the artist has created based on the answers she received, which heighten
the images in a fascinating manner.
Miwa Yanagi's synthetic
photographs are visualized dreams that make visible the human search for
freedom and fulfillment in a society circumscribed by conventions.
The exhibition Miwa Yanagi runs from January 31 - March 28, 2004 at the
Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin. Opening hours are 11 am to 8 p.m. daily,
on Thursdays until 10 p.m..
Translation: Tanya Ott