Somehow, I Don’t Feel Comfortable
At the core of this creation is her ambivalent feeling toward cuteness, particularly in its Japanese definition. The bunny represents a stereotypical image of cuteness: something innocent, pure, and small that should be protected. The artist portrays this endearing image in a distorted manner to express her own feelings about Japan’s male-dominated society. Its uncomfortable position encapsulates the artist’s sentiments about Japanese “kawaii” (cuteness) culture, associated not only with cute characters like Hello Kitty but, more broadly, with societal expectations regarding women’s behavior in Japan. Women should be cute, have a submissive smile, and speak in a high-pitched voice.
Her frustration swells like a balloon. The intentionally oversized rabbit, exhibited cramped between the ceiling and the floor, looking down from above, evokes a critical sense of unease about the demands and expectations of cuteness culture.
Born in Japan, Momoyo Torimitsu has lived and worked in New York since 1996, when she joined the P.S. 1 International Studio Program. Torimitsu works in a variety of forms, including kinetic sculpture, installation, video, photographs, performance, and site-specific projects. Torimitsu’s work is inspired by the hypocritical imagery of corporate culture and media stereotypes of cuteness and happiness, reexamined through the lenses of irony and humour. Her best-known projects are a series of realistic crawling businessman robots that symbolize “corporate soldiers.” Torimitsu has performed with them on the streets of business centres worldwide. Torimitsu’s work often places the viewer in the tension between the realisation of an underlying cultural truth, and the funny or lighthearted exterior, ultimately creating a feeling of unsettlement, forcing participants to evaluate their own roles in the acceptance of certain social norms.
Torimitsu has exhibited her works at Hawai’i Triennial 2022 Pacific Century – E Ho‘omau no Moananuiākea, Honolulu, Frei_raum Q21 exhibition space/MQ, Wien, Austria (2019), ArtScience Museum, Singapore (2019), Manifesta11, Zurich, Switzerland (2016).