April 6 to April 13
March 23 to March 30
March 8 to March 16
Some years ago Minami Minegishi, a singer of Japanese Idol-Band AKB48 got a some international media attention: she appeared on Japanese TV, crying with shaved hair—apologizing that she had a sexual affair with a young man. That seems to be agains her contract with the management of the group.
The first image that came up in my mind was the image of shaved women in Europe after the second world war: women who had an
affair with Geman soldiers where publicly punished this way. So even today shaving women’s hair seems to be an symbol of humiliation and power — and is used like this all over the world.
Another question that came up: was this her own idea or was ist just another marketing strategy? These questions let me use Minami‘s image as part of »Mechanical Brides«, a series I started in 2011 dealing with the image of women in media an advertising.
I also produced various stickers I pasted on the streets: on traffic lights or electrical boxes, post boxes, trash cans or power poles wherever we travelled: in Japan, all over Europe, the USA, in Hongkong, Korea or China. Preferably in commercial areas of big cities close to advertising images or advertising screens. But it could also be at the southernmost place in Africa or an abandoned alley in Sarajevo.
In 2015 during a residency at the Cité International des Beaux Arts in Paris I left some stickers in Marais next to fancy fashion stores, around Opéra near some of the Japanese shops in that area or other touristic parts of the city.
On Oct. 6th I got a message from a Japanese friend who told me that this was discussed on Twitter and several Japanese websites. A young woman had photographed one of the portrait-stickers (something I do myself for the project- blog.*
Some of her followers had commented on this, retweeted it. A well known music-publisher also retweeted it and all of a sudden more than 20.000 people shared it and almost 17.000 people liked it.
There where immediately some hateful comments (»this is agains Japan« or accusing and insulting Koreans) but other people asked the same questions like myself, some laughed about it, liked it a lot and some had unexpected ideas, connections and associations — and also some confusions with other Asian women.
I used these (badly translated by Google Translate) comments, ideas, associations, mistakes as a method to search for images which are published in this zine (below). The allegedly random selection of images is connected through the image of a Japanese Idol.
March 2 to March 9
February 23 to March 2
February 16 to February 23
February 9 to February 16
February 2 to February 9
January 26 to February 2
January 19 to January 26
January 12 to January 19
January 05 to January 12
The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo in the 1960s was a stunning structure. Designed by the legendary architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, the Imperial Hotel’s lava rock facing, the abundance greenery and the dominant reflection pool makes me think of Angkor Wat or the Taj Mahal on a more intimate scale. Known in Japan as the Teikoku Hotel,the Wright designed structure was built inthe early 1920’s, opening up on Sept. 1, 1923, the day of Japan’s most powerful earthquake ever, one that resulted in the flattening of Tokyo and over 140,000 deaths. Wright had already left Japan several months before, but was proud when told that the Imperial Hotel remained standing. […] In the years and months leading up to the Games 1964, the hotels tried hard to get the various committees and federations to provide more exact numbers of guests. […] By the late 1960s, the Wright-designed structure was falling into decay, part of the building sinking into its foundation. The number of rooms was woefully short of economic viability for a downtown Tokyo hotel as well. The hotel was closed at the end of 1967, and demolished to make way for a high-rise structure. The Imperial Hotel will be the IOC Headquarter during the 2020 Olympic Games (which are postponed to take place in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s already discussed if they will be cancelled permanently at all.
December 16 to December 23
December 08 to December 15
November 24 to December 01
October 27 to November 3
October 20 to October 27
October 6 to October 13
September 1 to September 8
August 18 to August 31
July 14 to July 21
July 7 to July 14
Jun 16 to June 23
»Worldwide urbanization and the ongoing rise of urban noise levels form a major threat to living conditions in and around cities. The environment in which animals live, communicate, and reproduce can have a major impact on their phenotype. Urban birds often experience very noisy conditions while singing, which may influence the efficiency of their acoustic signals.«
May 26 to June 2
Konohana Dream is a virtual walk through Konohana, Osaka, which I completed in May 2020. Konohana is Oliver Sieber’s and my emotional home in Japan, which I really miss at the moment. The walk with Google Street View is a very unsatisfying subsitute but an attempt to continue the different Walks we did together in Japan and Paris.
Website for this project is: http://japaneselesson.boehmkobayashi.de/
May 5 to May 12
Katja Stuke, Rio 06, 2016
from the series: Supernatural
The portraits of artistic athletes and high divers were taken during the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) London (2012) and Rio (2012) photographed from a television screen. The singular Olympic Games idea, the particular competition situation directly before the decisive sporting performance, the moment of concentration and the question of the identity and development of girls and women plays a key role in this photographic work.
April 21 to April 28
Cry Alex or become a monk
Katja Stuke‘s video work Cry Alex (2019) features two crying women of different nationalities and ages simultaneously presented as a diptych on two tablets. Facing the viewer front-on, they seem to turn directly towards them with their unfiltered emotions or at least to regard the viewer through the camera as the recipient. One sequence shows a young Asian woman in a simple white top in front of a light grey-beige background, her hair is shaved. Overflowing with tears, she reveals herself to an invisible audience, interspersed with short, impetuous sighs. The person depicted is the Japanese pop singer Minami Minegishi, a member of the well-known Japanese girl band AKB48. The band’s concept allows for a special closeness between the girls and their fans, which, among other things, manifests itself in regular handshake events. As part of the marketing strategy, band members are prohibited from having relationships. Stuke takes Minami‘s publicly expressed remorse as an opportunity – typical of her work -– to ask questions about the authenticity and staging of images. Even though the resulting sentences in Japanese remain incomprehensible to most listeners due to a lack of language skills, the visible signs of humility are universally readable through the tears and the shaved hair. In Japanese, the expression ‘to become a monk’ describes this form of (self-)humiliation, but above all it is reminiscent of the public punishment and humiliation French women who were said to have had relations with German men during the Second World War endured. Katja Stuke critically questions this media event by juxtaposing the crying Minami with the crying Alex. Alex, an actress hired by the artist, rubs a sliced onion under her eyes in front of everyone, so that afterwards the tears flow as a physical reaction and at the same time her facial expressions produce a moment of authentic crying. Alex is dressed in a comfortable black T-shirt while Minami wears a white top that in this context can be seen as a hair shirt, in Christian terms this means a rough, scratchy garment, that when worn on the bare body implies the most moderate form of (self-)mortification. This juxtaposition subtly reflects the possibilities of media staging that require a specific reference in order to be unmasked as artificial. In the case of Cry Alex, it is the onion and the sentences whispered in Japanese: ”Is she crying? Is she really crying? Tears run down her face.” Due to the language barrier, this hint is only accessible to a small audience. If the viewer misses the initial sequence with the onion, then the emotion portrayed would be considered authentic. It is only the detailed gaze, the time spent and the attentiveness of the recipient that distinguish the ready and willing consumer from the critical observer. In this work, Stuke‘s media-critical preoccupation with images of people in public is shown to be exemplary, for it remains unclear whether Minami‘s feelings are real or just part of a marketing strategy launched in advance. Photographed from a television screen, it is the monitor resolution that gives the work a grainy aesthetic, in turn it implies a fleetingness that can be seen as characteristic of the fast-paced media world. Stuke captures and freezes this transience, counteracting it, so to speak, by fixing the individual frame of a video sequence in a single photograph.
Katja Stuke is a German artist. She lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Together with Oliver Sieber she cover an extensive range of personas: photographers and artists, curators and exhibition organizers, designers and art book editors. Yet as they move through their photographic cosmos, it is not always so easy to determine where one identity ends and the other begins. Regardless, in their works and activities as artists and art facilitators they have long since become moderators of a very specific photographic culture.