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Posts Tagged ‘art’

In this gender reader: 10 years and no movement on the separate surnames bill in Japan, the feminist power of Sailor Moon nostalgia, feminization and slurs in Korean queer terminology, wrist-grabbing isn’t sexy, Teddy girls, and more!

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Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945
Seattle Asian Art Museum
http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibitions/deco
May 10 – Oct. 19, 2014

Seattle Asian Art Museum | The Lobster Dance

 

I meant to review this show when I saw it in May, so we’re taking another quick break from the ongoing series so I can finish this review in a timely fashion.

Jazz. Gin. Short hair and short skirts. The modern girl. The rise of film, and the advent of skyscrapers and air travel. After World War I, the world was changing rapidly. With the machine age came an increased emphasis on speed.

 

The art world answered with Art Deco, which had a driving energy that found expression in its use of themes from cultures all over the world, wild appropriation of other art forms, and graphic designs with fast lines that could be adapted and used on everything from housewares to posters, and for everything from politics to advertising.

By World War II, Art Deco had left its mark on almost every medium of visual art.

Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945, with nearly 200 works, reveals the widespread and particular impact of Art Deco on Japanese culture. Through a wide range of mediums—sculpture, painting, prints, ceramics, lacquerware, jewelry, textiles, furniture, and graphic ephemera—this exhibition introduces the spectacular craftsmanship and sophisticated designs of Japan’s contribution to the movement.

Shown in our gem-like 1933 Art Deco building, Deco Japan offers you the rare opportunity to experience the full range of Deco artistry in a period setting.

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For those interested in Japanese folk craft (民芸) and history, check out this Kickstarter for the oral history project to preserve a Tohoku craft and four decades of exchange:

Carving Community: Oral History of US & Japanese Folk Art

An oral history project aiming to create a digital archive to help place a collection of traditional Japanese folk art in a museum home

Photo by Malina Suity and Paula Curtis via Kickstarter

Photo by Malina Suity and Paula Curtis via Kickstarter

Introduction:

In March of 1953, only one year after the end of the US Occupation of Japan, Janell Landis, a 27 year old Pennsylvania native, traveled to Japan as a part of a three-year teaching program. Those three years turned into four decades of engagement with the local Japanese community as an English teacher at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University and resident of Sendai, Japan. Landis spent her time there teaching English, traveling the country putting on puppet shows (a hobby close to her heart), and even recording English language television programs for her local station. Through this television connection, she serendipitously met Hiroi Michiaki, an artisan specializing in Edo-koma 江戸独楽 (Edo-style wooden spinning tops), with whom she recorded a New Year’s Day special in the winter of 1981. Over the course of the next decade, Landis was apprenticed to Hiroi (to her, Hiroi-sensei), and collected over a hundred of his handmade tops, each a remarkable testament to Japan’s traditional craft culture.

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Notojima‘s other main attraction is the glass art museum, which features international glass ranging from the practical to the abstract.

The design of the museum itself is sleek, playful, and modern.

IMG_1716

 

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In this reader: Bond gets hit on by a man, BBC Sherlock‘s Irene Adler is naked and that’s okay, a man does laundry, and women are not cattle. Don’t forget the “You’re Doing It Right” section at the end for some good news.

Jenna #1, detail. Copyright Alice Ross.

Jenna #1, detail. Copyright Alice Ross.

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This piece also appeared in Feministe on 1 April 2013.

One of the most striking scenes in the 2012 miniseries version of Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End is one in which suffragette Valentine Wannop takes refuge in an art museum during a rally. While she is quietly admiring a painting of Venus, another woman enters and slashes the painting with a cleaver, shouting, “What are you all gawking at? Do you think that is all women are good for?”1

Parade's End, Episode 2: The Destruction of the Venus

Parade's End, Episode 2, damage

As someone with a deep love of art, I was alarmed as Valentine was. I do not believe in the destruction of art, but what the stand-in for Mary Richardson said stuck with me. Consider the status of women in the art world: often considered the “muse,” rarely the artist; lauded as the pinnacle of beauty but having no worth otherwise: the Venus forever looking in her mirror, the object of the (male) gaze, not the subject of her own agency. Should a gallery or museum try to strive for the inclusion of women artists (and artists of color, queer artists, and so on), there may be criticism of ignoring the masters, so-called “female privilege,” and the desire for a gender-blind meritocracy that simply does not exist at present. If you were wondering what such an article might look like, look no further than C.B. Liddell’s “The diverse works of Asian women artists,” a special to The Japan Times.

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Just like fashion trends, the “ideal body shape(s)” for both women and men changes through the years based on social and economic trends. Of course, socially preferred body shapes within the same population may vary based on ethnicity, socioeconomic class, national background, location, etc., but there are general, overarching trends. As someone who adores fashion history (it’s more tied to gender studies than you think!), visual culture, and mapping social trends, in high school and even now I was intrigued by the idea of ideal body types for each decade: Marilyn Monroe for the 50s, Twiggy for the late 60s, and so on.

Left: Twiggy; Right: Marilyn Monroe. Image from Italie Leanne. “Twiggy: I Wanted To Look Like Marilyn Monroe.” The Huffington Post. 29 Mar. 2010.

Realizing that even though your body type isn’t “in” now but was at some point in history or is somewhere else in the world can be incredibly gratifying. The first time I saw a Roman statue who actually looked exactly like my body type at age 18, I was so happy that there was once someone looked like me and whom an artist felt was beautiful enough to model for a mythological character. I love/d reading about the 1920s, because I would have considered pretty for a shape I was teased about in high school [ed. more about teasing vs. discrimination later]. I think a lot of people, especially women, have this idea that they were “born in the wrong decade/century/era” for their body type, and it can be empowering to see your shape as beautiful or sexy.

So when I saw the illustration “Wrong Century” by Tomas Kucerovsky I should have been happy, right?

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