Becoming Bishoujo

Amy Meng
   
February
   
4
 -  
February
   
15
"Becoming Bishoujo is a synthesis of my on-going exploration into kawaii (cute) culture, investigated through the lens of craft and psychoanalysis."

INFORMATION

Becoming Bishoujo is a synthesis of my on-going exploration into kawaii (cute) culture, investigated through the lens of craft and psychoanalysis. The title of the exhibition denotes my particular interest in the “bishoujo”(beautiful young girl) as a sign, and how she magnifies the infantilisation and pornification of society. The bishoujo is what countless young women in East Asia ascribe to be, it’s conception demonstrates that gender is very much asocial construct. To appropriate the famous provocation by Simone de Beauvoir: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a bishoujo.” Drawing influences from manga, anime and video games, I construct narratives in which the bishoujo perform as surrogates for women who are often wandering along the periphery of a phallocentric social fabric, allowing the folds and creases of our emotions and psyche to be materialized. These bishoujo oscillate between the sweet and the perverse, the infantile and the adult, in a world where reality and fantasy, the imaginary and the symbolic, are increasingly superimposed.

 

At the same time, it is impossible to discuss how one becomes a bishoujo without considering the significance of female labour in the domestic sphere. Like the image of the bishoujo, female labour is being extensively exploited and fetishized, not only within the Capitalist market, but also in our own homes. The fetishization of labour enlarges the gap between girlhood and womanhood – male desire wishes for the permanence of kawaii, yet it also demands the swift transition from carefree cutie to diligent caretaker when marriage is concerned. Hence the incorporation of hobby craft and household materials, which usually require extensive labour, allows me to re-examine and problematize domestic stereotypes, namely the house wife and the otaku (an agoraphobic individual who shuns social interaction and is usually obsessed with video games and/or anime). What happens when our ideals of the “safe haven” start to disintegrate? We would come to realize that the home not only provides comfort and intimacy, but also breeds conflict and transgression. In this context, to practice sewing and embroidery evokes its own ambivalence: recognizing the weight of “women’s work”, I simultaneously cut, pierce and stitch together the very fabrics that marginalize and subjugate women.

Becoming Bishoujo is a synthesis of my on-going exploration into kawaii (cute) culture, investigated through the lens of craft and psychoanalysis. The title of the exhibition denotes my particular interest in the “bishoujo”(beautiful young girl) as a sign, and how she magnifies the infantilisation and pornification of society. The bishoujo is what countless young women in East Asia ascribe to be, it’s conception demonstrates that gender is very much asocial construct. To appropriate the famous provocation by Simone de Beauvoir: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a bishoujo.” Drawing influences from manga, anime and video games, I construct narratives in which the bishoujo perform as surrogates for women who are often wandering along the periphery of a phallocentric social fabric, allowing the folds and creases of our emotions and psyche to be materialized. These bishoujo oscillate between the sweet and the perverse, the infantile and the adult, in a world where reality and fantasy, the imaginary and the symbolic, are increasingly superimposed.

 

At the same time, it is impossible to discuss how one becomes a bishoujo without considering the significance of female labour in the domestic sphere. Like the image of the bishoujo, female labour is being extensively exploited and fetishized, not only within the Capitalist market, but also in our own homes. The fetishization of labour enlarges the gap between girlhood and womanhood – male desire wishes for the permanence of kawaii, yet it also demands the swift transition from carefree cutie to diligent caretaker when marriage is concerned. Hence the incorporation of hobby craft and household materials, which usually require extensive labour, allows me to re-examine and problematize domestic stereotypes, namely the house wife and the otaku (an agoraphobic individual who shuns social interaction and is usually obsessed with video games and/or anime). What happens when our ideals of the “safe haven” start to disintegrate? We would come to realize that the home not only provides comfort and intimacy, but also breeds conflict and transgression. In this context, to practice sewing and embroidery evokes its own ambivalence: recognizing the weight of “women’s work”, I simultaneously cut, pierce and stitch together the very fabrics that marginalize and subjugate women.

FEATURED WORKS

Amy Meng, Game Boy Game Gal, 2019, Fabric, felt, thread, beads, sequins, faux pearl and fiber fill, 65 x 41 x 18 cm
Amy Meng Fighting! <3<3<3<3, 2020, Video, 21:49
Amy Meng, An Eye For An “I”, 2020, Human hair, wool and paper, 29 x 9 x 29 cm
Amy Meng, Boys Don’t Grow up, 2020, Embroidery floss and beads on boy's clothing, 96 x 160 cm

OTHER EXHIBITIONS