Mako Idemitsu

Recoding the conventions of soap opera melodrama, Japanese artist Mako Idemitsu creates domestic narratives that examine the cultural role and identity of women within the context of the contemporary Japanese family. In works that both echo and subvert the popular family dramas of Japanese television, Idemitsu applies a feminist critique in her multi-levelled fictions of the psychology of the "family romance." Dramatizing the strictly defined gender roles that shape mother-child and husband-wife relationships, her Great Mother Trilogy explores the complex cultural and psychological identification of woman as mother in patriarchal Japan.

In many of her works, Idemitsu employs an ingenious metaphorical and narrative device that reflects the pernicious cultural influence of media and the disunity of the familial structure: An omnipresent television set positioned within the domestic scenes reveals the inner realities of the characters, serving as the ubiquitous presence of a powerful psychological Other. Narratives-within-narratives probe the internal drama beneath the surface melodramas with a rich, metaphoric economy.

An omniscient mother is seen on a television screen, gazing over her daughter's conjugal bed like an externalized superego; another mother obsessively monitors her absent son's activities via his video image. Idemitsu's intimate positioning of the video monitor within the sphere of domesticity is both ironic and poignant, contextualizing the personal and societal conflicts of female identity within the daily life and technology of Japan's mediated culture.

Mako Idemitsu was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1940. She studied at Waseda University, Tokyo, and Columbia University, New York. From 1963 to 1975, Idemitsu lived in the United States, where she was involved with Jungian analysis and feminist studies. Her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Fukuyama Museum, Tokyo, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Idemitsu has exhibited her works widely throughout Japan and internationally at festivals and institutions including Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Ottawa National Gallery, Canada; the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Venice Biennale; Asian-American International Video Festival, New York; Festival du Nouveau Cinema et de la Video, Montreal; Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany; and the Academy of Art, Honolulu. Idemitsu lives in Tokyo.