The Pleasure Quarters installation combines my City of Shoes and Floating World installations. The cages represents mizushobai or the water trade, named as such because houses of prostitution, theaters and drinking houses were built along the shores of rivers. Although life in the pleasure quarters was depicted romantically by ukiyo-e artists such as Utamaro, Sharaku and Harunobu, in reality the women who worked in these houses were sold by destitute farming families and had to work off onerous debts for much of their lives. The shoes symbolize the unspoken world of burakumin, historically living in segregated villages within cities because of their livelihood in tanning, curing, disposing of the dead and other defiling occupations. It is my desire to draw the viewer into discussion of class, race and gender through this visually pleasing installation.
2011 installation, 6 feet in diameter.
CITY OF SHOES
I come from the City of Shoes. The inhabitants look like everyone else, but they work in shoemaking and tanning leather. They butcher our meat, dispose of the dead. They are lowly street musicians, ringing bells and pounding drums, walking advertisements for telephone sex. They live among us, but are invisible, because what they do disgusts us. This pile of paper shoes is all we need to see – clean, shining, undefiled.
2011, 16”L x 15”W x 7” H, shoes made of paper and vellum printed with digital photo
A country prostitute plies her trade along with her "sisters" behind latticed windows. A pale hand grasps the sleeve of a walking by. Her face is a shadow behind the screen, her sweet voice arouses him in the fantasy of sexual pleasure. Is the woman a prisoner or temptress? One implies subjugation and weakness, the other, control and power. The viewer is invited to explore this question, not only as it relates to Japanese women of a certain era, but to womens' lives and personae today.
2010, installation of 108 cages in different sizes.