Into Performance: Japanese Women Artists in New York

By Midori Yoshimoto | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Historical Background
and Common Issues

Buckminster Fuller … explains that men leaving Asia
to go to Europe went against the wind and developed
machines, ideas and occidental philosophies in ac-
cord with a struggle against nature: that, on the other
hand, men leaving Asia to go to America went with the
wind, put up a sail, and developed ideas and oriental
philosophies in accord with an acceptance of nature.
These two tendencies met in America, producing a
movement into the air, not bound to the past, traditions,
or whatever.

—John Cage, Silence

In this chapter I will lay out some historical background in order to establish commonalities among the five artists—Yayoi Kusama, Yoko Ono, Takako Saito, Mieko Shiomi, and Shigeko Kubota—under discussion. The first three sections will focus on Japanese background and the three others on American background. While the five women artists have been discussed mostly in the context of Western art, it is equally valid to situate them in the context of the Japanese art world in which they formed part of their artistic foundations. First, in the section “Particularities of the Japanese Art World,” I will introduce some problems inherent in the Japanese art world, such as the

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