Tomorrow Girls Troop
Curated by Alison Groves
Opening 07.03.18 6-8pm
Artist Talks 29.03.18 6-7pm
Ashita Shoujo Tai introduces the new aesthetic of fourth wave feminist art collective, the Tomorrow Girls Troop: the first socially engaged collective of their kind from Japan and Korea.
Using public protest, kawaii and pop culture references, advertising and memes, the Tomorrow Girls Troop topples the dictionary definitions and legislation which invisibly oppress Japanese society. With international membership, their internet-based practice often extends to the parallel inequalities in Korean society and invites foreign audiences to consider these power structures and other ways of approaching feminist dialogues.
The bourgeoning fourth wave nests a new generation of feminist discourse in the ecology of the Internet. In this porous climate, Japan’s first feminist art collective assembled in 2015: Ashita Shōjo Tai (the Tomorrow Girls Troop). The feminist art collective tackles equality by taking elements of the largely western feminist dialogue and building a relatable, yet radical, aesthetic from the (Japanese) familiar. With strong Kruger and Guerrilla Girls references, Tomorrow Girls Troop draws on the kawaii and polished aesthetics of Japanese graphic design, while demanding change.
In the November 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Japan ranked 114 from a pool of 144 countries, and Korea closely followed at 118. The disparity gauged between the gender equality and socio-economic measures of prosperity is arguably the most extreme in the world: exceptionally high living standards, alongside significant inequality of the sexes.
The recent history of feminism in Japan reflects a culture governed by mass media saturated with conservative gender stereotypes and unable to report on protests and sex-related crime, lacking vocabulary and political action to unite grassroots efforts, and riddled with challenges for queer, non-binary, and trans communities. One of the world’s safest countries has grossly underreported sexual crime and a systemically ingrained patriarchal binary.
Statement From the Artists:
Especially in Japan, feminists were conceived to be too aggressive or theoretical and sometimes misunderstood to be pursuing only women’s favors. One of our primary goals is to break the wall between the mass audience and scholarly feminism in Japan. (Tomorrow Girls Troop, 2016).
The Tomorrow Girls Troop critically and creatively engage with pop culture, making use of magazines, internet memes, commercial advertisements, and comics in a way that opens up the topic of feminism to a wide audience. By adopting the forms of popular culture, the Tomorrow Girls Troop work in the space between parody, critique, and suggestion. They aim to provoke discussion and a questioning of norms, heightening awareness of invisible social pressures at work in Japanese and Korean societies and inviting people to look beyond the oppressive framework that is given by the heteronormative, male-dominated society.
The Tomorrow Girls Troop formed in 2015 in Japan, and have globally active members based in Japan, South Korea, and the US. Members remain anonymous and have diverse education backgrounds including visual arts, media, gender studies, performance, and dance. Their socially engaged practice entails video, performances, graphic design, petitions and protests, lectures and workshops.
In 2015, Tomorrow Girls Troop launched the successful petition to remove the sexualised city mascot for Shima, Japan. In 2016, this grew to address to a petition against the Japanese penal code for sex crimes to promote safety for victims, coinciding with the ‘Believe—we know it’ campaign. The most recent petition in 2017 saw new definitions for feminist and feminism written in the 2018 edition of the kojien dictionary, and this remains an ongoing project.