Made in Occupied Japan: BuBu + Yoshiko Shimada



In the past, my work examined the different roles of Japanese and other Asian women during World War II, in which Japanese women assumed a glorified, nationalistic mother role while other Asian women were forced into the roles of sex object and prostitute. But while Japan was the only Asian colonizer, it was also colonized culturally by the West throughout the history of its modernization and in the post-war era. In relation to the Western men's gaze, Japanese women were positioned along with other Asian women as 'exotic', 'sensual' objects. Therefore, Japanese women's position in history is double-faced, victimizers and doubly victims, and both colonizers and doubly-colonized. In order to examine this ambiguity of our positions, this project will focus on how Japanese women's sexuality has been reconstructed through this relationship of Japan and the West (particularly with America).
  I was born in a military town called Tachikawa. Growing up in a US base town, seeing Japanese women selling sexual service to US soldiers, I became aware of the military, social, and sexual power structure between Japan and the US. This brought a certain feeling of abomination to and fear of America. But I grew up in Americanized culture and spend years living in the States. I consider myself a sort of hybrid of Japan and America-as to a point most Japanese are, for it is unrealistic to assume the existence of 'pure' national/cultural identity-and I have mixed feelings of love and hate toward America. This project will also examine this relationship between Japan and the US within myself, in order to understand my many-faced identity as a Japanese, as a woman, and as an artist.
  Now the area of the main gate of US base is called 'Faret Tachikawa' - a site of 'public art'. These international contemporary art works conceal any memories of the history of US base town. What I'd like to do with art is not to conceal the memories of the site but to make them tangible.
  Using female 'drag' performance as a tool to re-stage the history, I'd like to examine the phallo-centric power structure, which has divided and ruled us by genderizing relationship between West/East, colonizer/colonized, and subjugator/subjugated. Re-staging this structure by female drag mocks its inevitability by treating the Phallus as a mere option, and ultimately deconstructs the Phallus as a metaphor of power.


Yoshiko Shimada




I want to tell you, those who were Pan-Pans, or those who are Pan-Pans.
There is nothing wrong with you.

What is necessary and how much of it is necessary to live can only be known to oneself.


"My customer, who is and old man, always tells me the same story-that of war he fought in New Guinea." (male prostitute, Japan, 1998)
"Japanese customers often refuse to use condoms." (female prostitute, Philippine, 1997)
"Japanese customers are kind." (female prostitute, Australia, 1994)
"Customers all over the world say the same thing." (male prostitute, Italy, 1997)
"It was quite cheap." (salary man who went to Philippine for sex tour, 1997)

These are testimonies I heard.

Please don't put any adjectives to prostitutes.
Poor, brave, miserable, ignorant, innocent, cunning, sensitive, strong, kind, wise, stupid…

I have a lot that I want to say.
But, do you understand what I want to say?


Installation Views