Japanese Schoolgirls Grow Up

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The Japanese schoolgirl image was made famous by comic books and cartoons. But not everyone thinks they’re so kawaii (cute). What do Japanese women make of this archetype? Lisa Katayama met three young art stars whose work reclaims and re-invents female pop imagery, in some disturbing ways. But don’t call them feminists.

→ See a video of Toast Girl and a slideshow of the art below

(Originally aired: February 6, 2009)

 

 

 

 

Video: Toast Girl in Action

 

Slideshow: The Art of Toast Girl and Erina Matsui

Music Playlist

  1. Super Sucker

    Artist: Toast Girl
    Album: Mini Album
    Label: Philter Records
  2. I'm Bored

    Artist: Toast Girl
    Album: Mini Album
    Label: Philter Records
  3. Go Romantic

    Artist: Toast Girl
    Album: Mini Album
    Label: Philter Records
  4. Hello Afro

    Artist: Toast Girl
    Album: Mini Album
    Label: Philter Records
  5. Kaiju No Ballad

    Artist: Toast Girl
    Album: Spring, River, Flower, Moon, Night
    Label: Philter Records

Lisa Katayama interviews Toast Girl at a bar in Golden Gai, an old Tokyo district of tiny bars that used to be brothels.

( Leital Molad )

Supersucker, 2001 by Toast Girl. Her mischievous use of household appliances has garnered the artist a large following among young Japanese women.

( Toastie )

Supersucker New, 2001 by Toast Girl. Roller-skate vacuum cleaners have become a staple prop in the artist's repertoire.

( Toastie )

Toast Girl at the window, 2004. The artist's name was coined in 1998 when, as an exchange student in Australia, she decided to toast a piece of bread while holding the toaster on her head.

( courtesy of Hiroyuki Matsukage )

24-year-old Erina Matsui says she just wants her bizarre paintings to make people laugh.

( Leital Molad )

I Love Shrimp Chili by Erina Matsui.

( Yamamoto Gendai )

Food Chain — Star Wars by Erina Matsui.

( Keizou Kioku, courtesy of Yamamoto Gendai )

Two Days and Two Nights by Erina Matsui.

( Keizou Kioku, courtesy of Yamamoto Gendai )

Mahomi Kunikata explains the violence depicted in her art.

( Leital Molad )
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