Unease also accompanies Hiroko Okada's manipulated photos of cheerful pregnant men. They're part of The Delivery by Male Project, which includes a video that "documents" the imagined innovation of male pregnancy. The photos imply questions about gender roles and parenthood with the look-twice surprise of seeing male bodies, one with long hair that, combined with the visible pregnancy, suggests femininity at first glance. UMMA also plans to continuously screen the project's video mockumentary about a man who chooses to become pregnant.
Tomoko Sawada's poised re-creations of traditional arranged-marriage portrait photos also examine gender roles. In each one, she photographs herself, impeccably dressed in clothes ranging from a sleek 1960s-style high-collar leopard print dress with chunky-heeled black boots to intricate kimonos with traditional sandals. Various hairstyles and expressions transform her appearance from wary child bride to beaming, plump matron to cute fashion model.
Like these varied self-portraits, the exhibition as a whole offers a wide-ranging look at contemporary Japanese photography. It continues at UMMA Off/Site through September 16.
[Review published July 2007]