These days, it makes me very happy - People still encourage me for my work Combat : Manual for daily survival. Combat has been a big part of my life. It began in 2003, when many people around me wanted to commit suicide .
At this time I was thinking of create an installation, an invented sect called "Believe in Yourself". The original idea of Combat was inviting participants to make propaganda images as guru of their own sect. It was also about the idea of giving your presence to another as an encouragement. This idea developed after meeting a doctor who came to my first exhibition of Combat, and talked about people who are terminally ill. She said to me that she usually put portraits of other people around her patient's bed because it is good to be surrounded by other people's faces. When my mother was dying, this came back to my thoughts and I sent urgently the photographs of everyone who had been part of her life.
My relationship with this work is very complex. "Momento mori" (remember you will die) - I was frustrated when people could not understand that this old way of doing a "selfie" in an ID photo booth was not just about vanity, but something much more important - namely the freedom of photographing oneself without technical expertise. I felt a truth must emerge when I ask subjects to photograph themselves. Was there truth? Yes, and often I did not like it, because of it not fitting in with my presumptions. Combat is meaningful even with the least intentions, because it still represents life, survival, and yes, vanity rather than freedom and Momento Mori. In this aspect Combat becomes stronger, even the weakest pieces. It made me realize that when I photograph people,
however unjust this act may seem, I still can transcend vanity because of my intention.
This period, when I started to feel that photographing was an act of shaping someone to my own interest, even with their accord, was unbearable.
Today, I have less of a problem about photographing other people.
Ukio-e Combat came after Combat's commercial success. I had become tired of jealousy, being mocked and criticized by people who I felt were missing the point of Combat. I was pressuring myself to make a more 'perfect' work. The further I tried to achieve perfection, the more I failed, because art isn't about perfection - it is about imperfection as well.
So, recognising this, I looked back to old Japan for Ukio-e Combat. Ukio-e was a popular entertainment in the daily lives of ordinary people that became defined and standardized as Art by the West. The printed textile in this particular piece, Bijin-ga ('beautiful women's portrait'), marks this vision of East interpreted by West. It would probably have been interpreted very differently according to African, Asian, South American, Middle Eastern or Pacific cultures. In this work in particular, I am attempting to question the Western perspective of Japanese women in Ukio-e, and relate this to interpretations of Japanese and Asian women in and by contemporary Western society.
Miki, an artist, that questions and propose to share experiences with another.