Read an exclusive interview with Kimiko Yoshida
Kimiko Yoshida was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1963. Feeling oppressed as a woman, she left Japan in 1995 and moved to France to pursue her artistic ambitions. “Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women, I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, voluntary servitude of women, identity and the stereotypes of gender,” Yoshida says. She studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles and the Studio National des Arts Contemporains in Le Fresnoy. Since gaining her artistic freedom, Kimiko Yoshida has been working prolifically. Her work revolves around feminine identity and the transformative power of art.
In her most recent project, “Painting, Self-Portrait” she wears elaborate costumes and paints her skin in a monochrome color that matches the background. The monochromatic elements accentuate the fashion of Yoshida’s costumes and drown out the individuality of the artist. For the artist, the costume is “the field of diversion, detournement, and deflection.” The visual elements, coupled with the titles’ reference to artists and paintings of the past from Titian to Warhol are meant to come together to challenge conventional notions and traditions of art and cultural identity. “I want an image that tries to rethink its own meanings and references.” By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, Yoshida says, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait. Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite—an erasure of identity.”
For her self-portraits, Yoshida received the International Photography Award in 2005. She continues to exhibit worldwide, and her work is found in the permanent collections of such museums as the Fine Arts Museum of Houston, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.