Here’s the cover for a new book out on Duke University Press, in which I have a chapter. It’s edited by long-time colleagues Marc Steinberg and Alex Zahlten. My piece is about the artist Rokudenashiko, who has been challenging some of the highest laws of the land (Japan) with her hand-sized sculptures and other works. She uses her body in funny, plastic ways–molds shaped on the curves and whorls of her vulva–to make tableaux and art pieces. She was jailed twice for these pieces, brought up on charges of obscenity.
Rokudenashiko’s arrest and trial for transmitting the scanned data of her body to crowd-funding supporters is still ongoing. It has brought a new kind of art activism into the public arena, bringing humor and tenacity to the use of the body as an art form. For me, she approaches the “theory” of the book’s theme through the practice of speculative design, using plastic materials to challenge standards that regulate women’s bodies and want them to transform in ways useable for the state–standards that threaten to extend the definition of obscenity into the pre-artistic realms of data collection and transmission.
There’s other good stuff in the book, too, by way of introducing major figures and movements who have contributed to 20th/21st c. approaches to media in Japan!