November 10th – 20th 2001
BORDERS IN THE ART OF YOSHIE MIZUNO
a border is a sign that divides something into two or more and can be in the form of territory, lows, culture, possessions, gender, time and the rest. Borders do not always need to be connected to the physical, as they can also be understood as non-physical. And borders frequently produce sensitivities and tensions. The demarcation between neighbours and the boundary lines between countries often give rise to conflict and spilt blood. Along the edge of these borders is where there is a higher concentration of tension compared to farther away from the boundary. This is so moreover when the border has been arbitrarily drawn without generation with inhabitants living in affetted areas. It is as if the region is no man’s land , just like when the colonial powers divided up those conquered territories in a fashion that stilI gives rise to ma ny border conflicts .
There are two categories of boundorv Yoshie Mizuno wishes 10 depict. in this exhibition with its subject Batas meaning these borders. The first type of border is domestic or personal while the second is non-domestic or public and both of these are explored in the works of Yoshie.
Household fences or boundaries become the metaphor for domestic borders in yoshie’s work, Everywhere we see household fences or boundaries each day. We always have to pass through a fence whenever we wish to go out or came in. The fence always appears in our consciousness as meaning the boundary of an area, authority or ownership. lows and value systems exist there .
Yoshie presents the existence of a fence as the symbol of social values in those works of her thet focus on domestic (gender) nuances. These are the value systems that confine the movements of woman. “The woman’s word is limited just by the house fence, she can only peep from within the fence to see what is occurring outside. ” say s Yoshie. This is similar to be classicl art of Japan where the facial features of a woman who holds a fan might only be depicted half -appearing so to just see the eye” brow and hair bun. It is clear that her work positions woman at the centre of restrictive social values . These values are not just, Wherever there are human beings only woman, because of their gender, have to carry out lives enclosed by fences. It is not so for men, Are these community values with borders, like de scribed above, still present in Japanese social life today? Before Yoshie described her intention in making these works, I asked her, whether or not the form and contents in her art could be separated from the culture of Japan where she was raised : “when I lived in Japan the fences did not appear but the mornentl lived in the west those fences became visible.”, she replied. Yoshie has settled for more than ten years in australia. ‘
But it seems Yoshie’s creative processes and powers of sensitivity do not just focus on issues of garder, she explores .the question about being human that does not differentiate the sexes. Humanity, full stop. In this Yoshie steps from the metaphor of the household fence to the boundary crossings of nation, skin colour and language (culture). these point toward universal issues.
Now the intention in Batas is to reveal in its entirety both the worlds inside her self as a woman in the midst of male domination and the external universe of the world citizen. For Yoshie these are integrated to become a source for processing ideas . Her ideas always give rise to questions, and accusations , about the purpose of borders in our life. We can see it though works incorporating all sorts of languages and scripts to describe racia l and ethnic variety. In.one series Yoshie writes the letters of words burned around the edges. ”This series of work is a picture of the skins peeled from the victims trapped in the New York World Trade Centre twin towers. and these victims came from various races that used different languages.” she said to the writer.
The event of 11 September in New York swallowed up the lives of more than 5,700 civilian victims and deeply wounded our sense of humanity. Putting aside the ongoing political accusations, who are the terrorists in this matter? Is it the suspected side of AI Qaeda or is it the policies of the American nation as the troublemakers at the root of word terrorism? Black or white choices like these produce boundaries in our lives so thot we become limited and narrow in our outlook on the word. The world ought to be seen as territory without boundaries or primordiol divisions. But what a pity so many world leaders (read: frontier guards) like to proclaim statements affirming borders.
Look at the-black and white choices: “are you with us or with the terrorists?” or “will you embrace death and kill the heretics?” It seems this world now is very enthusiastic to murder the best values of what we could be, to kill our humanity. Wherever the activities of death seek supporting so the it celebrates the glory of a culture of brutality.
We must refuse to make a choice between black and white like this, and we must dare to declare:
“Humanity is not an object to become a target. We shall not join together with those who passionately kill and destroy. We are allied to peace, allied with life.”
We locate and discuss the works of Yoshie in this context of humanity, confronting the partitions and borders that accommodate oppression, brutality and anti-humanity, or cultures that stockpile death. Thus we find the element of fire (in burning the canvas) in Yoshie’s art is used as a way of making works. This can be interpreted not as the fire that ignited and demolished the New York twin towers or the fire that now is flaring in the land of afghanistan. Or the bonfires from the acts brutality continuously fragmenting the world. This is the fire that celebrates the zeal of the culture of death .
Actually the element of fire in the art of Yoshie might be given another meaning. Reminding us of the energy of the consuming and purifying flames that light the ngaben cremation ceremony. The flames of life where we join together in sorrow and to sincerely give thanks. Best wishes for this exhibition, Yoshie.
17 October 2001
Contemporer Artist, lived in Darwin, Australia