Tomoko Sawada – School Days



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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.

Preview: Thursday January 12th 2017 @ 6pm

Location: The MART Gallery, 190A Rathmines Rd, Lwr, Dublin 6.

Runs to: Feb 24th 2017

Open: Tues-Sat: 1-6pm 

In Conversation: Tomoko Sawada – An interview with the Artist & Curators.

Photo Gallery: MART on Facebook.

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, restaging 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 up 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. All of these elements culminate in a photographic document of Japanese society and the individuals that encapsulate it.

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. Sawada explores the relationship between one’s inner life and outer perception from society, experimenting and highlighting the artist’s skill as a costume, make up, technical and theatrical artistry of identity manufacturing. 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. Wearing identical school uniforms Sawada successfully creates a large volume of individual characters by altering each person’s attire, accessories, makeup, stance and facial expression slightly, creating a series of prevailing students. The series references a tradition of bi yearly photographs taken seasonally in school from Kindergarten right up to High School graduation in Japan. Sawada set out to homogenize both her education and teenage personalities, showcasing elements of times in her own and fellow students lives of taking a risk of breaking strict school regulations and attempting to become someone different from her own self.

Also on view is selection of Sawada’s 2001 work ‘OMIAI♡’. In this photography series Sawada transformed her own personality, character and body through the aid of costumes, makeup and wigs to explore 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. Either partner attempting to analyse who she/he is. Sawada intentionally both mimics and represents several stereotypical female identities, pushing the viewer to see not just a figure, but framing these new identities that sit between fantasy and reality.

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.

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Activating Pangea: The Voyage




‘Activating Pangea: The Voyage’

Nov 5th – Dec 4th 2016

CB1 Gallery Los Angeles 

Dublin based curators Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan of MART have embarked on a 3 year initiative to bring leading and emerging contemporary Irish art to Los Angeles through their series ‘Activating Pangea’.

This the second exhibition in the series titled ‘Activating Pangea: The Voyage’  showcases recent work by Irish Artists Brian Duggan and Adam Gibney. It reflects on geopolitics over time and space, as we transverse language and negotiate real and imagined places in a global context. The artworks crossing in the gallery are Adam Gibney’s ‘Euclid, I miss you…’ and Brian Duggan’s ‘A Cause for concern but not alarm’.

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Gibney’s work targets the quest for certainty. He states, “Man has created an abstract language in Mathematics to convey underlying governing principles of our reality, and in so doing a platonic world is created. This world can often become difficult or impossible to  convey  in  everyday  language;  it  is  in  these  places  that  our  imagination  and perception are tested.” In this exhibition the points of which Gibney’s work targets reality, linguistics and technologies intermingle with the symbolic annotations of the everyday.

Duggan’s work is informed by the way in which we live now. Duggan’s work questions the aspirations and assumptions that are interlinked within the scientific and social framework of energy consumption and legacy planning. The systems in place are always evolving, attempting to catch up to an elusive plateau that is inherently unstable. Through the work presented here Duggan “plunges the viewer into a realm where seemingly casual navigation of space bespeaks chilling (hi)stories”

‘The Voyage’ allows the visitor to refocus their own experiences and memories through the interpretation and assimilation of language and analyse their own exploitative journeys through space and time. Focusing on the quest for answers of our own existence and our place within an imagined world without borders, without physical and cultural barriers, the exhibition suggests new ways of being and thinking, while investigating the conditions of concerning events and symbolics of reality.

Download the Exhibition Handout Here for full details.

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