1 post tagged Japanese
© Jan Banning, from his series “Comfort Women,” a project he made with writer Hilde Janssen. Jan exhibited at The Half King in 2010 with his many-storied, breathtaking project “Bureaucratics.” Despite their severity, Jan’s comfort women portraits are so in keeping with his Bureaucratics portraits: they both occur straight on, with no equivocating, no apology. Here, this woman seems the face both of an unapologetic truth sayer, but also of the specific horror she was subjected to. And the housefly on her knitted cap gives a weird bit of levity to her intense anger and hurt.
Comfort women were Indonesian, Korean, or Chinese girls taken from their homes and forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during WWII. Jan’s photos are of 18 such Indonesian women. In speaking with Jan and Hilde, these women broke the persistent taboo against publicizing rape, and are part of a growing awareness of this secret history.
Two items of interest related to Jan’s project:
1) This past spring, NYC’s Queens Council member Peter Koo announced plans for a memorial in Queens that would honor comfort women. Japanese deniers are writing to protest. (Deniers assert that these women were willing prostitutes.)
There is already one such memorial in Palisades Park, NJ. In May, a group of Japanese elected officials met with Palisades borough leaders to ask them to remove the memorial. The answer was no. Read more here.
2) In Tokyo, a photographer Ahn Sehong is exhibiting his “Comfort Women” photography—now, as I write—to bitter outrage. In response, Nikon, the show’s host, at first cancelled the exhibit, then re-instated it after a court order. They did however, succeed in prohibiting the media from covering the show. More here.