The highly constructed images of Ryoko Suzuki's
series Anikora-Seifuku depict popular,
Japanese dolls, akin to Barbie dolls, with the
artist's face superimposed. The effect is an
uncanny critique of the "appropriate" social roles
traditionally designated for women living in
Japan. Reminiscent of animé, the distorted,
unrealistic dolls express the notion of the
supercute, or 'kawaii', an idea that confronts the
cute but often highly erotic portrayal of women
in Japanese comics, advertising and toys, which
has been prevalent since the early 1900's.
Suzuki's work situates her practice as a feminist
response to these conventional representations;
she creates a fictional self-portrait that
simultaneously highlights the prevalent
divisions of gender in contemporary Japanese culture.
In his recent series Empty Lots, American-born
photographer Chad Gerth depicts images of
unproductive, abandoned land in urban Chicago.
Such places are familiar to any urban dweller
insofar as they depict the slow process of nature
taking back the built, concrete environment.
Photographed from a vertiginous viewpoint, Gerth
transforms the cityscape into a visual plane of
shape and colour, removing the familiarity of
these common lots. This series not only documents
a kind of history – the ever changing face of
urban development – it also slyly suggests that
the built, concrete world of human engagement
will eventually fall to the unrelenting forces of