Tomoko Sawada


From a press release about her exhibition ID400:

In the tradition of Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, and more recently Nikki Lee, Sawada plays a host of characters and identities in her self-portraits. With each new get-up she transforms into someone else.

In the ID-400 series, reminiscent of Andy Warhol's photo-booth portraits from the 1960s, Sawada used a public photo booth to create an "army of me," - but not me. She spent weeks continually changing her physical appearance and dress to invent a total of four hundred different new identities. The facial characteristics and expressions are so varied and elastic in these candid shots that they become in of themselves a subtle study of physiognomy.

Tomoko Sawada lives and works in Japan. Recently, her works were exhibited in prominent group shows at ICP and the Japan Society.

And from a New York Times article about her, the following description:

While the French use photo booths mainly to make identification cards, put an artist like Tomoko Sawada into a booth and ID goes down the drain. Ms. Sawada's disguises outnumber the quick-change artist's, the master criminal's and the worst case of Multiple Personality Disorder rolled into one. There are 399 versions of her in head shots - 401 if you count the two that are "really" her - and another 30 in full figure at the Zabriskie Gallery in midtown right now. What's more, each of the 401 head-and-shoulders images is repeated four times, so that you're confronted with 1,604 Tomoko Sawadas, almost all of them not exactly herself. "Tomoko Sawada: Two Photographic Series," through Sept. 6, is the last word on saving face.

The 400 pictures are single photo-booth images rephotographed, multiplied times four and arranged in squares, then fitted together in framed grids of 100 squares each, adding up to a regular rogue's gallery of unprepossessing little women. (The extra four are blown-up pictures of her with her hair closely shaved to accommodate a truly exorbitant supply of wigs.) Her expressions run up and down the scale from blunt to dour to lost, angry, kittenish, babyish, sheepish, dimpling and scholarly, without stopping at forthrightly sexy or openly smiling. In one incarnation she wears what looks like a bifurcated mop on her head, another time she looks like an unmade bed, once she approximates a kitsch Japanese bobble-head doll and yet another time she has obviously smelled something bad in the booth.

Thanks to JK for the reminder.

Contributed by Brian