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Feminism, Bourgeois Liberalism and Shimada Yoshiko’s Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman’

Updated: 7 days ago

Namiko Kunimoto (Ohio State University)

With Shimada Yoshiko (Online appearance)


12/15 (Th), 18:00-19:30

Room 301, 3F, Sophia University Yotsuya Campus, Building 10

In person session only

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This paper examines work by Shimada Yoshiko, the Tomorrow Girls Troop, as well as Korean artists Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung, whose work likewise addresses inter-Asian colonialism and has drawn vociferous responses from various segments of the public. Specifically, I argue that Shimada’s performance work, Becoming a Statue of a Japanese ‘Comfort Woman,’ is not about revisiting a singular moment in time, but instead seeks to reveal how economic violence and social violence are ripple effects that share the same origin: specifically, a form of bourgeois liberalism that upholds patriarchy, attempts to maintain an image of societal unity, and disavows responsibility for the past.


Namiko Kunimoto is a specialist in modern and contemporary Japanese art, with research interests in gender, race, urbanization, photography, visual culture, performance art, transnationalism, and nation formation. She is the Director of the Center for Ethnic Studies at Ohio State University and Associate Professor in the Department of History of Art.


Her essays include Situating “Art in Transwar Japan” in ThirdText (2022), “Tsujimura Kazuko and the Body Object” in Asia Pacific Japan Focus (2021), and “Tactics and Strategies: Chen Qiulin and the Production of Space” (2019) in Art Journal. Dr. Kunimoto’s awards include a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship, Japan Foundation Fellowships (2007 and 2016), Ishibashi Foundation Fellowship (2020), a College Art Association Millard/Meiss Author Award (2017), and the Ratner Distinguished Teaching Award (2019). Her book, The Stakes of Exposure: Anxious Bodies in Postwar Japanese Art, was published in February 2017 by the University of Minnesota Press and she is currently working on her next book, Transpacific Erasures: Contemporary Art, Gender, Race, and the Afterlives of Japanese Imperialism.

(Photo: Shimada Yoshiko and The Tomorrow Girls Troop, Against Forgetting, Glendale, 2018. Performance. Copyright Shimada Yoshiko and the Tomorrow Girls Troop. Photo credit: Weng San Sit.)


This talk is organiazed by Noriko Murai (Associate Professor of Art History, Sophia University) for the ICC Collaborative Research Unit “Feminism and Female Empowerment in the 21st-Century Academy