The highly constructed images of Ryoko Suzuki's series Anikora-Seifuku depict popular, life-like Japanese dolls, akin to Barbie dolls, with the artist's face superimposed. The effect is an uncanny critique of the "appropriate" social roles traditionally designated for women living in Japan. Reminiscent of animé, the distorted, unrealistic dolls express the notion of the supercute, or 'kawaii', an idea that confronts the cute but often highly erotic portrayal of women in Japanese comics, advertising and toys, which has been prevalent since the early 1900's. Suzuki's work situates her practice as a feminist response to these conventional representations; she creates a fictional self-portrait that simultaneously highlights the prevalent divisions of gender in contemporary Japanese culture.
In his recent series Empty Lots, American-born photographer Chad Gerth depicts images of unproductive, abandoned land in urban Chicago. Such places are familiar to any urban dweller insofar as they depict the slow process of nature taking back the built, concrete environment. Photographed from a vertiginous viewpoint, Gerth transforms the cityscape into a visual plane of shape and colour, removing the familiarity of these common lots. This series not only documents a kind of history – the ever changing face of urban development – it also slyly suggests that the built, concrete world of human engagement will eventually fall to the unrelenting forces of nature.