Monthly Archives: March 2021

Tableware For Exhibition

Laurie says:

This is mostly cross-posted from my artist’s diary “laurieopal”.


The Northern California Women’s Caucus of the Arts is having a really interesting group installation that lured me in spite of how busy I am.

It’s table settings that are supposed to be a three-dimensional self portrait, and a celebration and historical documentation of each artist.

I talked it over first with my daughter Cid, who is a choreographer and does museum installation as part of her creative work.

I have silverware that was designed by my uncle Ben Seibel, who has continued to be a famous industrial designer 35 years after his death. And I have an amazing collection of antique beads that were given to me by my grandmother, who made bead jewelry for her jewelry store, The Waverly Shop, in Greenwich Village.

I decided to do wire designs with my grandmother’s beads and Ben’s stainless silver. The art in my family is definitely where I come from. And the place mat is going to be one of the Pandemic Shadows that I have been photographing.  I am living in the shadow of the pandemic and photographing the shadows everywhere. I get to make beauty in hard times.

It will be exhibited with the NWCA’s exhibition “Composing the Future”, showing in May-June 2021 at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.


And, you also write a “Toast” (5″ by 7″) that is part of your presentation.

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Photo of the Week: Hwangbo Kangja

Laurie says:

This weeks photo is Hwango Kangja from the Women of Japan project. These are the images I took of her in Japan and her texts are below in English and Japanese.


Laurie asked a mutual friend of ours, “Introduce me to a woman in Japan who has a sense of presence.” I asked her, “Is that me?” and I agreed to model for her. We had over a five-hour photograph session at Manjuin temple in Kyoto, but since my friend who interpreted for me left halfway, the rest of the session was run only with whatever communication we could muster. The session began with an explanation of her work. She asked me questions; we got to know each other by exchanging questions. This process was short, but done well. Of course, it included the promise that I would agree each time that my photograph was going to be exhibited.

Autumn in Kyoto is wonderful. Being outside made me feel more open than being photographed indoors. But I couldn’t smile or grin naturally. The difficulty of being “natural” stumped me completely. With Laurie’s encouragement and perseverance, we finally completed the photography session. I was relieved, and then she asked me, “Pose for me in the way you feel most like who you are.” And that work is one of the photographs she chose [for exhibition]. When I found out about it a half-year later, I felt, “She got me!” Also, she chose a photograph where I am in a bamboo forest; she said the straight thick bamboo “fit with my image”.

Laurie, who is Jewish, and I have a lot in common. If you count from my Korean father, I am the second-generation Korean; from my mother, I am the third-generation Korean. Nobody can tell that I am a Korean if I don’t mention it. Laurie’s grandfather and my father left their own countries because of war and ethnic exclusion. They were swallowed up into the majority and lived in tension all the time. Talking with her, I didn’t feel like it was the first time we met, and I felt close to her.

Before Laurie came to Japan, she was told, “There is no diversity in Japan,” but she found so much wonderful diversity. That is because the friend who introduced me to Laurie understands diversity.

The [immediate] association of the title “Women of Japan” is nothing more than a person who has Japanese nationality and looks Japanese. These photographs can’t tell you who the model is without an explanation. Especially my picture: my name is the only clue. Plus, it is a more obscure clue, since it is not a common Korean name. I suppose many Japanese would feel an inconsistency, asking, “Why is this a woman of Japan?” And my kin would be surprised, asking, “Why did you naturalize as a Japanese?” But I was born and raised Korean in Japan, and also have been a woman living in Japan ever since.

What kind of woman lives in Japan? Who is this member of Japanese society? There certainly is a common belief that Koreans, foreign people living in Japan, should not be considered as “Japanese women.” Also, there are women in Japan who can’t be described by this expression alone. The title “Women of Japan,” which is not simple, lets us raise many questions.

Laurie Edison’s “Women of Japan” challenges the usual conception of who is not included. It lets the viewers notice the fact that they’re living in a society that ignores the Korean neighbor who has been living in Japan for nearly one century, as well as ignoring other women in Japan. It creates a social revolution via a partnership between the one who takes the photograph and the one whose photograph is being taken. Can I do something so expressive? I, who wouldn’t listen to the story of my grandmother and mother who both have passed away, am going to try demonstrate their mystery. What were their lives like as Korean women living in Japan? I’d like to trace their ways of life, ways that can’t be covered by just the words “cruel” or “misfortune.” And I want to reconfirm to myself who I am by doing so.

translation by Motomi Rudoff

「日本にいる存在感のある女性を紹介してほしい」というローリーさんの要望に、「私でいいの?」とモデルを引き受けた。京都の蔓珠院での5時間に 渡る撮影だったのだが、途中で通訳の友人もいなくなり、それこそ、感覚だけで撮影が進められた。最初に彼女から、今までの作品についての説明や私への質問 など、お互いを知り合い、疑問を出し合うというプロセスを短時間ではあるが、きちんと行った。勿論、作品が出される時には、その度に私に確認するという約 束も含めてである。
秋の京都は素晴らしく、自室での撮影より気分が開放的になった。しかし、自然に笑う、微笑むということが出来ない。「自然に」というのがこんなに難 しいものなのかと、ホトホト困った。ローリーさんの励ましと粘り強さに引っ張られ、撮影がようやく終了し、ほっとした最後の「一番自分らしいポーズをとっ て」という写真が作品になっている。半年後、写真を見て「ヤラレタ!」っていう感じだった。また、真っ直ぐに伸びた太い竹は「あなたのイメージにぴった り」と竹林の中にいる私の作品も一点ある。
ユダヤ人のローリーさんとは、いろんな共通項がある。在日朝鮮人の父から数えると二世、母から数えると三世の私は、何も言われなければ朝鮮人だとは 分からない。戦争や民族排除によって、ローリーさんのお父さんも私の父も祖国を後にした。そして、多数者の中に飲み込まれ、常に神経を張り巡らせて生きて きた。そんな彼女との会話は初対面とは思えぬほど、身近に感じられた。
ローリーさんは日本に来る前に「日本には多様性がない」と言われたが、実際はすばらしい多様なものがいっぱいあったという。それは、ローリーさんに 私たちを紹介した友人が多様性を持った人だったからだ。「日本の女性たち」というタイトルから連想するのは、日本国籍保持者で、見た目が日本人に他ならな い。今回の作品は説明がないと、この人が一体何者なのかわからない。特に私の写真は、名前だけが唯一の手がかりになっている。しかも、あまり一般的な朝鮮 名ではないので、かなり難解なヒントだ。私の写真を見て、日本人の多くが「これがどうして日本の女性たち?」と違和感を覚えるだろう。また、同族からは 「日本人に帰化したの?」と驚かれるだろう。しかし、私は日本に生まれ育った朝鮮人で、ずっと日本で暮らしている女なのだ。
ローリー・エディソンの「日本の女性たち」は、その中に含まれない日常的な確認を問い直す。一世紀近く隣に暮らし続ける「在日」や、その他の女性た ちを無視する社会に生きていることを見る者に気づかせるのだ。写真を撮る方と撮られる方での共同作業によって、社会変革への一石を投じる。私にもそんな表 現活動が出来るのではないだろうか?亡くなった祖母や母の物語を聞こうともしなかった私は今頃、彼女たちの謎を明らかにしようとしている。「在日」女性と しての人生はどうだったのか?「悲惨」「不遇」という言葉だけでは言い尽くせない、彼女たちの生き方をなぞってみたい。そうすることで、私自身が何者かを 再確認したいのだ。

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