Vtape Restoration & Collections Management Director Kim Tomczak has begun the historic task of restoring and digitizing the videos of Japanese writer, translator, and artist Kyoko Michishita, while her 16mm films were recently scanned at Queen’s University’s Vulnerable Media Lab. Once fully restored, translated, and subtitled, this work will be available for distribution through Vtape, making these key works of Japanese feminist media art accessible again for the first time in decades!
Kyoko Michishita is credited with introducing the ideas of second-wave feminism to Japan when she translated Gene Marine’s A Male Guide to Women’s Liberation in 1975, propelling her into the spotlight as a public figure and spokesperson for this new-to-Japan topic. In 1978, Michishita introduced Gloria Steinem to Japan through an article she wrote for More magazine, and she has translated two of Steinem’s books into Japanese. After meeting the iconic modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe in 1980, Michishita translated Laurie Lisle’s book about O’Keeffe, Portrait of an Artist, which was published in Japanese in 1984. Referring to each as “a great inspiration,” she maintains a strong friendship with Steinem, and was one of the few allowed to see O’Keeffe in her final years. Michishita’s own writing includes Sensuous Life (1980), a collection of essays on feminism; Farewell to Sakhalin (1995), an account of her family’s experience of the continuing conflict between Japan and the USSR in Sakhalin after WWII; and the novel The Blue Hour (2008), about the experience of a Japanese woman in the U.S. in the 1960s. Her video Being Women in Japan: Liberation within My Family (1973-74) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and her other films and videos have been screened at many festivals, galleries and museums across Japan and internationally. Other films and videos include Being Women in Japan: Living with the Ocean (1974); Cherry Blossoms (1975); Two Highlights in a Life of Woman (1976); In My Home Town I, II and III (1976); and Dinner with a Friend (1980).
Image credit: Being Women in Japan: Living with the Ocean (Kyoko Michishita, 1974).