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Tetsuya Ishida. Self-portrait of Other

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The work of Japanese artist Tetsuya Ishida (Yaizu, Shizuoka, 1973 – Tokyo, 2005) gives the experience of the contemporary subject a face as it explores the uncertainty and desolation of Japanese society, drastically altered by the technological advances and successive crises that have affected economies and politics the world over. More specifically, Ishida portrays, with descriptive precision, the mood of his generation, defined by the bursting bubble of finance and real estate and the mass lay-offs that plunged the country into a deep recession in 1991.

Across a short ten-year career, Ishida produced a formidable body of work centred on isolation and alienation in a world dominated by uncontrollable forces, where recurring images of school children and office workers would become a platform for asserting a forthright critique of education and labour systems driven by the imperatives of productivity and competitiveness. The metamorphosis of the human body merges with different insects, technological devices and means of transportation; claustrophobic situations see the body become physically trapped in holes and constructions or become part of an assembly line, like cogs in a machine; the search for identity, bound to the elementary need to return to childhood and a repressed eschatological component; the lost glow of amusement parks and the sadness that pervades wastelands, working to form a backdrop to the apathy of a society which has yielded to the machinery of production and infinite consumption.

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