In a group show at the Kitakanto Museum of Fine Arts in 1995, Shimabuku did a performance entitled Adolescence. He began a walk in the suburbs of Maebashi City to find a Japanese confectioner. Shimabuku had heard that Sarkis, a French artist who had resided in the city for a few weeks, loved a sweet from there. He walked with a hand cart which framed a photograph Shimabuku had taken in Mexico, Tijuana. It is a photograph he took in 1994, in which a group of people are seen climbing a fence and running across the Mexican-U.S. border. Although the artist dislikes the term “identity,” he seems to define his practice through the use of personal contact, whereby the travel he engages in has a reality beyond that of art world metaphor or allegory.
Hideki Nakazawa has a completely different career from the typical artist. Although he has painted since he was eleven years old and has participated in many graphic art competitions, he graduated from the medical department of Chiba University and worked as an ophthalmologist. In the late 1980s, he began a career as a professional graphic illustrator in multimedia and has published many floppy art magazines. In 1996 he developed a computer software, Digital Nendo, a three-dimensional graphic tool that extends the two-dimensional graphic abilities of Mac Paint. The development of this project is based on the idea of binomial analysis as it is applied to art history. It combines the Venetian school, which gave priority to colour, and the Florentine school, which gave priority to forms.
A work from his first solo exhibition in Tokyo consisted of a painting created with his newly invented word processor for the Japanese language. Shaped like a lightbox, it was entitled Twenty-Nine Characters and Twenty-Nine Lines – The Coordination of Character Type Painting No. 1 (1997). Using Chinese and Japanese characters as one-bit map colours, he constructed the painting according to the ideals of the Venetian school. Even though Nakazawa deals with computers, which one could argue has a universal scope, he is still concerned with domestic issues such as language. His work suggests a more complex approach to the relationship between the national and the international.
Finally, I will discuss the OK Girls, a performance group of three women based in Kyoto. They are members of the well-known Japanese group, Dumb Type, and they have been conducting events since 1992, when they staged OK Performance in Madrid because they found OK swimsuits. They work with activist themes such as AIDS and women’s issues that go beyond the art world. In their OK Pledge from 1994 they proclaim:
We raise our voices in a vow, not for worldwide peace, not for human prosperity, not for social progress, and hereby swear –
I. To attain enticing new levels of shock,
II. To overturn the meaning of freedom,
III. To neither rule nor be ruled,
IV. To accept all contradictions,
V. To enjoy all possibilities, mainstream and fringe,
VI. To toss all standards,
VII. To make something out of individual differences,
VIII. To disregard our own hopeless mess,
IX. To reconsider good deeds.
Let’s get out there and throw around the
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