Sachiko Kazama is a wood engraving artist who expresses her own viewpoint of Japan society and politics. Her black-and-white prints are minute, sharp, stabby pain and ironic.
Woodblock printing is a layered process of rigorous stages – drawing, transferring images, engraving and printing. Though the techniques were developed for mass production, Sachiko Kazama purposely keeps each art work as a unique piece. She merges historical motifs and prevailing accounts with alternative perspectives. Her conquest of truth stems from intensive research through word-of-mouth storytelling, images and site visits, and memorabilia and commodities of the time. She describes her stages of making art works as the reverse of her research – a process of excavating back to the present.
Kazama remains true to the origins of the medium, narrating a story through extreme pictorial fiction. Her work destabilises official history with cacophonous allusions to historic and contemporary cultures – and their possible futures – melded together within one picture plane.
The states of hyper-reality concocted in works such as Heisei Expo satirise our present times. Heisei is the Japanese regnal period which started in 1989, in synchronicity with other international turning points: the revolutions in the Eastern Bloc, the fall of Berlin Wall and the start of post-Cold War era. In Japan, it marked the culmination of one of the most rapid periods of economic growth in its history, but shortly lead to declining growth, deflation, social anxiety, and a loss of perceived security through cult-terrorist attacks. Kazama frames the events taking place in the Heisei era as an Expo – a celebration, yet also a tool for propaganda.