Tokyo born Kimiko Yoshida worked for a month in the various collections of the Israel Museum (ethnography, primitive and tribal art, archaeology). With a childlike curiosity, as if trying on various costumes while adopting different personalities, she used a multitude of artifacts physically adapting herself to their colors and significance, thus creating enigmatic self-portraits in which she nearly sublimates, becoming a support, rather than being the center of the image.

Essentially based on childhood experiences, Yoshida draws her inspiration from her traumatic past in her home country Japan which she abandoned because she felt "dead", and found refuge in France in order to escape her state of "perpetual mourning."

Her condition of becoming a wandering spirit, a fugitive and a vagabond in search of identity and the need to strike roots and define herself is at the source of her art. Her work is art in exile: deciphering new visual signs and conventions, in search of a new cultural home in order to create a new personal history and a new sense of belonging in an unending process of acculturation.

Yoshida's meticulous self-portraits sway between establishing a physical presence and vanishing in the background, as in Zen philosophy in which the being tends to merge with its surrounding. At the same time vulnerable and inaccessible, she journeys in a precarious balance between reality, dream and fantasy. The paradoxical quality of self-obliteration and search for identity only add to the drama ever present in her work. Kimiko's works are almost monochromatic self-portraits, subtle, and fictional fragments which form an ensemble addressing a number of subjects: Japanese culture vs. the Occident and within this, the feminine condition, and the subversion for identity.

Naturally imbued with the subtleties and minimalism of Japanese aesthetics, the large format luminous squares she crate take advantage of the stability of the shape, essential in Japanese culture while also using the Doran, the Japanese make-up, which is in absolute opposition to its Western conception as it comes to veil and obliterate the face, dissimulate the personal traits and erase singularities, thus rendering a standardized abstract idea of femininity and womanhood: the generic woman, both "democratic" and ambiguous.

Sensual and at times of a refined eroticism, her images underline the fantasy epic of the artist's world and life: an experience of the West through oriental eyes.

Nissan N. Perez,
Horace and Grace Goldsmith
Senior Curator of Photography
Noel and Harriette Levine
Department of Photography
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2006.