Tomoko Sawada at Zabriskie Gallery
Last week I went to see the new show by Japanese Photographer Tomoko Sawada : Schoolgirls.
This time Tomoko transforms herself through the wonders of technology into 41 different identities to make up an entire class of school girls posing for their annual class picture. Can you say.. They all rook-a-rike?
But all kidding aside, I have to admit, this is one artist I've been
constipated undecided on for a few years now. Initially I found her work playful as it explored issues of identity, public image, and social pressure for adolescents girls in Asian society. Today, I question the works originality and artistic merits. It just seems like a boring one trick pony. The work does a nice job of poking fun at iconic work by Cindy Sherman, as well as Nikki Lee, and Yasumasa Morimura. Tomoko has perhaps even earned herself the dubious reputation as the Asian Cindy Sherman. But, is this ever a good thing for an artists career? I don't think so!
Her first solo show in 2003 (NYT review by Ken Johnson, and Art In America review by Ed Leffingwell) featured her ID400 Series (1989-2001), Costume series, and Omiai series, all self portraits which were fresh and witty. It was this initial concept of self identity/masquerade in her ID400 series which won Tomoko Sawada the ICP Young Photographer Infinity Award in 2004. I've even come close several times to buying her work for the MAO photography collection. In fact, if it were not for her gallery representation's lack of
care, effort follow-ups, and already sky high prices, I would probably own a few. Yes, MAO readers, you'll be happy to know.. Galleries in Chelsea have nothing on 57th Street when it come to bad business practices and poor client service. No surprise!
Actually, now I'm
bitter glad I waited, cause, 8 years later, this artist is still doing exactly the same thing, and it just seems flat, tired, and on a road well traveled. Seeing the "new" show, totally turned me off this artist. As further evidence of the works mediocrity.. the re-installation of the contemporary galleries at MOMA, "Take Two : World and Views: Contemporary Art from the Collection" actually included one of her ID400 series. Need I say more?
The Tomoko Sawada show is open till April 29th.