Participation in DESIAP’s “Women’s leadership in designing social innovation: mutual learning in the Asia Pacific” program

Participation in DESIAP’s “Women’s leadership in designing social innovation: mutual learning in the Asia Pacific” program


Sae Shimizu

(MA student at the Aesthetics and Art History-SCAPe, Kanazawa College of Art)

 The local city of Kanazawa, where I was born and raised, is an attractive city for many tourists seeking art and culture, from traditional crafts to contemporary art, but on the other hand, for example, “61.1% of the respondents said they wouldn’t like homosexuals if they were close to them, or rather disliked them, which is the highest in the country”, as shown in this survey, it also has the aspect of being mentally closed.  When I was in the second year of undergraduate, I felt suffocated by continuing my studies in Kanazawa, so studied at the National School of Art and Design of Nancy in France during 2017-18. It made me keenly aware of my own hybrid identity as a Japanese woman with ancestorial roots in Korea, and I began to interest in artists of women and all minorities, who were often positioned as “peripheries” in the normative frame of Modern Japanese Art History. After returning to Japan, my supervisor, Yuko Kikuchi, was transferred from the University of the Arts London to Kanazawa College of Art, and I got the opportunity to study issues of “feminism” and “post-colonialism.”  And in Yuko’s class, I also was involved in the curation of the exhibition and was interested in the role of a “curator” who can practically return their own research to society. In 2021, I was involved as an internship trainee at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. And also I curated my first public exhibition “Stories The Mermaids Tell” at the remaining vacant house in Kanazawa.  The title of the exhibition was inspired by “The Little Mermaid” drawn by Andersen, who is said to have been a Quier person. The “mermaid” who was deprived of her voice to live as a human being overlapped with the “parties” who are “women”, “sexual minorities”, and have “poverty”. Then, artists with various identities and backgrounds break the forced silence, talk about their narratives, and regain themselves, creating a “place of narrative” that is different from a fixed story. At the same time, it criticizes the structure of discomfort, difficulty living, prejudice, and discrimination that comes from paternalism and heterosexualism.

 This introduction has become quite long, but after such activities, Yuko suggested me to participate in the “Women’s leadership in designing social innovation: mutual learning in the Asia Pacific” for my further skill improvement. In this project, I try to deepen the understanding of the theory of “Intersectionality” that I’m dealing with in my master’s research through practical activities. “Intersectionality” means several categories such as race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and age, which are interrelated and forming, and it’s how to understand and explain the complexity of human experience. (Patricia Hill Collins, Surma Birge) This concept is more than just an academic discipline, it is meant to “empower” those who suffer from social inequality in the midst of intersecting power relationships. Of course, I think the idea of  “Intersectionality” is strongly reflected in the DESIAP’s concept.

 Also, I focus on “handicraft” as an art practice that empowers people. Rozsika Parker who is an art history researcher and feminist said that embroidery historically creates “femininity”, in her “The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine”(1984). Similarly in Japan, “handicraft” has been marginalized from the areas of “Art” and “Crafts (Kogei)” and has been regarded as a woman’s hobby.  However, in an era when it was standard for women to become homemakers at the same time as they got married, it is said that the “handicraft” played a role of “care”. I am fascinated by the duality of handicrafts like this.  Furthermore, in the field of contemporary art, as the feminist art authority Judy Chicago (1939-)’s The Dinner Party (1974-79) shows, by deliberately choosing a technique called “handicraft”, it is possible to emphasize the socially positioned position of “women”.  Regarding this phenomenon, art critic Lucy Lippard points out that feminist works such as decorations and embroidery have attracted attention as “high art”.

 As the first step of this project, we will hold a workshop on May 31, 2022. I would like to embroider “own name” with participants and discuss the story of each name.  First of all, it will be held on a small scale, but it is important that people of different nationalities and genders gather and connect to each empowerment through embroidery and talking. My mentor in this program Michiko Tsuda, advised me to take a video of the participants’ hands and keep it as a record.  Based on this video, I would like to give feedback on the workshop from the perspective of “Intersectionality”.


清水 冴(金沢美術工芸大学大学院 芸術学専攻)


 前置きが長くなりましたが、このような活動を経て、さらなるスキルアップのためにDESIAP(The Designing Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific)が主導する、「社会的革新をデザインするための女性のリーダーシップ、またアジア太平洋地域における相互理解を促進するためのプロジェクト」(“Women’s leadership in designing social innovation: mutual learning in the Asia Pacific”)への参加を提案していただきました。本プロジェクトでは、アーティストの津田道子さんがメンターとなり、私が自身の修士研究で扱っている「インターセクショナリティ」(交差性)という概念を、実践的な活動を通してより深く理解していくことを試みます。「インターセクショナリティ」とは、「人種、階級、ジェンダー、セクシュアリティ、障害、エスニシティ、年齢などの数々のカテゴリーを、相互に関係し、形成し合っているものとして捉え」、「世界や人々、そして人間経験における複雑さを理解し、説明する方法」です。(『インターナショナリティ』、パトリシア・ヒル・コリンズ、スルマ・ビルゲ)この概念は単なる学問分野以上に、交差する権力関係の渦中で社会的不平等を被る人々を「エンパワーメント」するためのものだと言われています。もちろん、DESIAPのコンセプトにも「インターセクショナリティ」のアイデアは強く反映されているように思います。

 また私は修了研究のなかで、人々をエンパワーメントする芸術実践としての「手芸」に焦点を当てています。美術史研究家でフェミニストのロジカ・パーカーは「The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine」で、イギリスの刺繍を取り上げ、刺繍をすることが歴史的に「女性性」を作り出す行為であったことを明らかにしています。日本でも同様に、「手芸」は「美術」「工芸」の領域から周縁化され、女性の手仕事・趣味と見なされてきました。しかし、女性が結婚と同時に家庭主婦になることがスタンダードだった時代、集合住宅の1室に主婦たちが集って「手芸」をすることは、「ケア」的の役割を果たしていたと言われています。私はこのような手芸の二面性に興味を惹かれます。さらに、現代の美術の領域では、フェミニズム・アートの権威であるジュディ・シカゴ(1939-)の《ディナー・パーティー(The Dinner Party)》(1974-79)が示すように、敢えて「手芸」という手法を選択することで「女性」が社会的に位置付けられたポジションを強調することができます。この現象について、美術批評家のルーシー・リパード(1937-)は、装飾、刺繍など、女性的とされたものがフェミニストの作品によって「ハイアート」として注目されるようになったとを指摘しています。