In 2001, when I had my exhibition “Meditations on the Body” at the National Museum of Art in Osaka, John Wells, a Kyoto filmmaker, did a short documentary film with an interview of me by Professor Rebecca Jennison from Kyoto Seika University. The film includes lots of conversation and photos, and some shots of the exhibition. John has just put it up on You-Tube and Google.
I just watched it. It’s always little odd to watch myself talking. Becky (Professor Jennison) is a good friend with whom I’ve worked with for years on Women of Japan. She asks really good questions.
That museum the largest space I’ve ever shown my work in. It was about 200 feet long. The way I install the work and the text is part of the art, and it’s different in every space. So hanging the show was a real challenge. The professional “crew” that hangs the work for museums there had never experienced someone planning installation hanging as she went along. At first they were very unconvinced, but by the end, they had picked up my method so well that they were making suggestions. This was the first time I had seen all 3 projects hung together and could see the links between them.
Working with the curator Akiko Kasuya was wonderful from beginning to end.
The exhibition was in August. August is children’s month in Japan, so 20 children were selected from various schools to have the honor of hearing the artist talk about her work and doing a workshop with her. The kids were from 6 to about 12. Many of them came with their parents.
I was very surprised when they told me about the kids and the workshop – clearly inviting children to an exhibit of nudes is not something that would happen here. For the workshop, I decided to have them trace their bodies, and then draw inside their outlines some things that were important to them. One 8-year old made a galaxy, another drew her pets and her books. And of course, some kids included food. They were all fabulous and really different from each other. The kids loved it, in part, because they got to work big and with free expression – something they don’t get to do a lot.
When I showed them the exhibition, some of them were shy, but some of them came right up to the photos and really examined them. I told them stories about the people and the photo shoots.
The reaction from museumgoers during the show was very positive. Mostly they found the images “comfortable” and were very glad to see nudes of real people. And the aesthetics of the work were really appreciated.
The documentary was made for Japan, so it has Japanese subtitles and conversational attitudes. Check it out.