Detail from Wild Corporation: First Orientation
Archival pigment print, 2018
IKL: Nature and natural settings have long played an important role in your work.
In your earlier land art projects, land became the primary medium. Tell us about the landscapes in this series. You take some inspiration from traditional Japanese landscape painting, which you at times combine with places you have visited and photographed. In many of these scenes, the women seem oblivious to their surroundings. Can you talk a little about the irony, absurdity or double meaning of women who wear office attire and stage fabled battles in the woods, or in a meadow, or on a beach?
Mimi Kato on the landscape.
Landscape has been a big part of my work. This came from my desire to belong somewhere since I left home. Usually the landscape comes first and then stories are born there. However, in this work, that was reversed. There was a story and I looked for the landscape that could host the narrative.
I wanted to use office culture since this is another setting that gender roles are very visible in addition to nature-based gender roles I mentioned earlier. By mixing these two up, I wanted to add a sense of ridiculousness to the absurd situations that women are dealing with in the patriarchal world. The office uniforms worn by women used to be typical of office wear in Japan. I used to wear it. I don’t think they are practical, but many companies used to make women wear them because they look good in these tight outfits, just like petite uniforms that flight attendants used to or still wear. The women depicted are capable of hunting and fighting. They are strong. However, the uniforms, which are a symbol of oppression, are trapping them both physically and mentally. We are a product of the social system that we are brought up in. Often we measure ourselves against false values belonging to the patriarchal system even though we try to stand against it.