Elevator Girls

Miwa Yanagi from visionaire archive 26 fantasy, curated by Isabella Blow

“Surreal, futuristic, theatrical, contemporary, and beautifully nightmarish; these are all factors found in the works of Miwa Yanagi centered around women, physical appearances, age, and social restrictions that Japanese women (and women in general) faced as she grew up. Her artistic mediums combine theatrical cosmetics, dramatic stage settings, computer generated scenes and synthetic photography which are genially transformed into remarkably realistic compositions. Huge in scale, these poetic narratives give insight of Yanagi’s childhood and culture through contradicting themes. Yanagi was born in Kobe, Japan, and though her father was a successful businessman, she was an average child and led a life of commuting back and forth between an average Japanese high school and home. Her parents were cultured and traditional and wanted her to have a steady marriage with a promising job. She studied fine arts at the University of Kyoto of Arts but had no real intentions of becoming an artist…After she graduated, she took a job as a teacher and because of society’s expectations for a woman to act and dress a certain way it wasn’t long before she was inspired to start a piece called Elevator Girl. An elevator girl is a female guide whose job is to ride elevators greeting and escorting guest in malls and railways. Elevator Girl was originally a performance piece which was held in a Kyoto art gallery (1993) and featured a model that stood in a mock elevator, dressed in what was considered an elevator girl’s uniform, and performed the duties of her character; the bowing, the greetings, the gestures. Yanagi decided that she wanted more control of the concept and turned to photography. Elevator Girl then became Elevator Girls; a series of photographs that portrays a group of Japanese women dressed alike and stationed in futuristic architectural settings. The scale of some of these photographs are large, others are huge, measuring sixty feet in length.”

-La Famme Fatal

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