My Grandmothers/YUKA (2000) by Miwa Yanagi
H1600 x W1600mm Lightjet Print
(this article first appeared in the may 28, 2007 issue of newsweek international)
In Miwa Yanagi's striking photographs, Japanese women waver between society's expectations and their own deepest desires.
Miwa Yanagi was feeling lost. It was the early '90s and she had recently earned a master's degree from Kyoto City University of Arts. Short on money and ideas, she took a job teaching art history, but felt guilty about not making art. During her commute each day, she observed uniformed young women operating elevators in big department stores. Then one day, it hit her: she might have been wearing a suit, but she wasn't any different from those elevator girls. She was playing the role of teacher, just as they were playing their parts. "I thought, everybody was trying to meet others' expectations in this society," she recalls.