COMFORT WOMEN WANTED to Open 11/1 at Wood Street Galleries
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of Comfort Women Wanted, an exhibition by Korean-born, New York-based visual artist Chang-Jin Lee. The exhibition is on view at Wood Street Galleries, third floor, November 1-December 1, 2013. The opening night event, 5:30-8 p.m., features an artist talk with Chang-Jin Lee at 6:30 p.m.
Comfort Women Wanted exposes the fates of nearly 200,000 young women who were exploited as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army in Asia during World War II. The artist uses the remembrance of these "comfort women"-some of whom are still alive today-to increase awareness of sexual violence against women during wartime.
"In Asia, the comfort women issue remains taboo and controversial, while at the same time, it is almost unknown in the West," says artist Chang-Jin Lee. "The comfort women system is the largest case of human trafficking in the 20th century. Human trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world, and the second largest business after arms dealing in the 21st century. So, the comfort women issue is not just about the past, but it is very relevant today."
The exhibition features a video documentary featuring interviews of Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Filipino, and Dutch "comfort women" survivors, and a former Japanese soldier, each speaking about their experiences at military "comfort stations", as well as about their own hopes and dreams. Additional projections show former military "comfort stations" in China and Indonesia, recalling the history and memory of place.
The exhibition's print works include posters reminiscent of advertisements that feature images of the young "comfort women" and are set alongside posters featuring the silhouettes of the now aged women. Each image is enclosed by the bold, black text COMFORT WOMEN WANTED, which refers to the language newspapers used to advertise for "comfort women" during WWII.
Chang-Jin Lee's artworks deal with identity, gender, globalism, nationalism, human trafficking, and religion. She based this project on her visits to Asia since 2008, where she met Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Filipino, and Dutch "comfort women" survivors, as well as a former WWII Japanese soldier. Comfort Women Wanted has been exhibited at The Incheon Women Artists' Biennale, Korea; The Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; 1a Space Gallery, Hong Kong; Spaces Gallery, Ohio; George Mason University Gallery, Virginia; and The Boston Center for the Arts, Massachusetts. Video screenings have been shown at Hauser & Wirth Gallery, New York; and Columbia University, New York. Lee's artwork Floating Echo-a transparent inflatable statue of Buddha-was featured at the 2013 Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Photo: Comfort Women Wanted at Wood Street Galleries. Image courtesy of the artist.