The Pandemic, Feminism, and Art

Text by Yoshiko Shimada8pages
Handwriting by AFREEN KHAN (Hyderabad, India)

Handwritten by AFREEN KHAN through Freelancer, this report features black text for the main content and personal comments in red.

Text by Yoshiko Shimada

Shimada Yoshiko (1959, Tokyo, Japan) is a visual artist and art historian. She graduated from Scripps College in 1982. She received Ph.D from Kingston University, London in 2015. She explores the themes of cultural memory and the role of women in the Asia-Pacific War, as both aggressors and victims. She uses printmaking, video, performance, research and archiving for her expression. She is also an art historian and archivist. Her research interests include art and politics in the post-war Japan, alternative art education, and feminism. Her art was on display recently at The Aichi Triennale (2019), “Beyond Hiroshima” at Tel Aviv University Art Gallery (2015). Her recent publications include 'Matsuzawa Yutaka and Spirituality in Suwa' (Conceptualism and Materiality,Brill, 2019), and 'Undercurrents in art and politics in Japan: Gendaishicho-sha Bigakko' (in The Red Years:Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68, Verso, projected to be published in fall 2020). She gave lectures at University of British Columbia, Monash University, UCLA, Copenhagen University, and Kingston University in the past. She currently lectures on feminism and art at the University of Tokyo. She lives in Chiba, Japan.

Ota Fine Arts

Handwriting by AFREEN KHAN from Hyderabad, India 🇮🇳

  • Please tell us where you live (city, country), and your occupation.

    I live in Hyderabad, India. I am a postgraduate of Pharmacy (registered pharmacists), I am currently doing work from home as a medical research writer.

  • How would you use the gratitude you earn out of this work?

    This work had left a suitable remark on me being a woman. I will explore more about Feminism about educate the same here in my country and for the future generation.

  • How did you feel about reading the text you’re assigned? Is there anything you (un)learned after re-writing it?

    I felt elated and satisfied that feminism is growing. More people from different backgrounds are coming forward to support it. Art is an impressive way to give a message to society. I learned many things from the assigned writings and rewritings. I learned about Japan, different activities related to feminism, Spirituality, Shintoism, and Radical Spiritualism.

  • Is there any change in your work and/or life during this continuing pandemic?

    Yes, there are more positive and less negative impacts for me. Before the pandemic, I was not allowed to work outside. I got homesick. When everybody started doing work from home during the pandemic, I, too, got an idea of doing it. I started working from home. I am using my education and skills to earn. Besides the pandemic impact, my confidence, inner determinant nature, and self-esteem have let me to this way. Now, I am working as a research medical writer, managing household work too. The negative impact is minor, including laziness. a little more household work, and lacking fresh breath.

  • Have you had any new discoveries or encounters as a result of the pandemic? If yes, what are they?

    Yes, I learned many skills through online courses, which were not possible for me to do offline before the pandemic. I spent a lot of time with my family, which was the great and happiest moment of my life. Eating together, working together, watching TV together was ecstatic. Unlike other men, men in my family are supportive, and help do household work if they get time. I gave some me-time too, to maintain my beauty and health.

  • Have you ever felt you were imposed to follow any rule (and you don’t want to follow) in your society? If yes, what and when was it?

    Yes, being a woman, I do have some restrictions in my society and my family. I was not allowed to hang out with my friends during my schooling and college days, and I did not want to follow them. For this reason, I used to lie abut being going to college but instead, I went with my friends to hang out. If our society does not impose such restrictions on young girls, we do not need to lie. But sometimes, these restrictions are for our safety too. As the cases of women’s harassment and molestation are increasing in society r almost every country, it restricts us from going outside alone or doing a job.

  • During the residency with Seira and Teresa, we also spent some time thinking about how “patriarchy” in Japan and the Netherlands is considered. How is “patriarchy” considered or discussed in where you live (or your country)?

    In my country, the father or oldest male is a head of the family, and descent is reckoned through the male line. Some families even pressurize women to give birth to a male; otherwise, they get divorced. In some rural areas of India, a girl child is abused and murdered just because of patriarchy. On the other side, women are considered homemakers who make a sweet home and get gratitude and love.

  • Similarly, how is “feminism” considered or discussed in where you live (or your country)?

    Feminism is taboo here. Many feminist activities are going on in India, but still, society is trying to stop these feminist activities. In many rural areas of India, women are treated like maid or sex toy. For this reason, many women activist or feminists are educating them regarding their rights in society or as per religion. Women empowerment or women’s welfare are the goals of a feminist to support lower sector or poor women.

  • What does “home” mean to you? Can you consider someone who is not blood-related but still as your “family”?

    Home means everything to me, a safe place where I get much love and affection. Society doesn’t accept my failure, but my family does. No relation is more important than blood relation. Yes, I do have somebody who is like family but not my family.

  • What are your (unpaid) care responsibilities at home or at work in your society as a whole? What is your first impression when you hear the word “care” (to give a hand to someone, to have sympathy)?

    As a woman, I have responsibilities for which I don't get paid, but I het honour, gratitude, and respect for that. But some women don't even get this. When I heard the word "care", the first impression I got was "Humanity". Humanity is much more than materialism. I would love to care for someone I don't know, maybe a human or animal as a human being. "What you do will come back to you (What goes around comes around)". If we care for nature, nature will care for us too.