School Girls – The Aida Makoto Interview
By Ryan Roth
Global Living – Issue 7 | June/July/August 2013
In Japan, the ‘school girl’ is, in many cases, both a power symbol and powerful. In the Japanese culture, older men can pay a young girl in products (bags, clothes, cell phones) to simply spend time with them and, although this is supposed to be an innocent affair in principle, things can develop quickly and few artists focus as much on this innocence and desirability of a school girl than Aida Makoto. With prostitution, happening bars, soaplands and all manner of random sex-related establishments existing, the Japanese art culture has and is deeply affected by its sex culture.
It’s safe to say that Aida Makoto is one of the biggest artists in Japan today and, in my opinion, one of the most talented artists in the world. The talent, ability and imagination of this man is second to none and should make many artists step back and see just how much they could learn.
I had heard a lot about Aida Makoto, from him being disturbed, a parasite on the image of Japan, a pervert, a master artist, and so many other things. It’s true that many of his works revolve around shocking imagery of naked female amputees being led around by a collar for sexual purposes, and it’s true there is a video of him masturbating for some time, which was filmed at an exhibition in New York City, and it’s true that many of his works are based around sex and young girls.
After seeing Makoto’s exhibition at the Mori Art Museum, Roppongi, Tokyo, I can’t say I enjoyed the entire experience, as I felt the space was simply too big and he should have done a slightly smaller exhibition. Showing such a large body of work, spanning his entire career, was simply lost on me, as I really wanted to see his best pieces, which I did, eventually, in the final gallery of the exhibition. But don’t get me wrong; for some, seeing how he developed is perhaps even more fascinating.
Makoto’s exhibition gave me a great insight into this controversial Japanese master artist, or so I thought; and therein lies the problem. With so many making assumptions of who an artist really is, based on his works, and making up all sorts of fantastical stories to explain the inner most workings of an artist, in the end we don’t have a clue.
I can’t tell you how frustrating it’s been to listen to someone’s opinion about art or literature, giving specific meaning to a brush stroke or a verse in a song and, unless you directly ask an artist what something means, it will only be your opinion. It won’t even matter if 100 people have the same opinion, as it will always be an opinion, and that’s what I learned once again in personally meeting Aida Makoto.
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