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A Woman and Collectives: An Interview with Tabe Mitsuko


Tabe Mitsuko (b. 1933) was one of the principal members of Kyūshū-ha (Kyūshū school), an avant-garde artist collective that was founded in Fukuoka in 1957 and lasted until about 1970. Tabe’s early paintings, such as Anger of Fish Tribes (Gyozoku no Ikari, 1957), using asphalt and bamboo rings, reflect Tabe’s concern about industrial pollution. While their thick texture followed the signature Kyūshū-ha style, Tabe’s works often stood out for expressing strong social consciousness, including proto-feminist concerns in the early 1960s. During her pregnancy, she created a mixed-media installation titled Artificial Placenta (Jinkō Taiban, 1961), which consisted of three mannequin hips propped upside down on pedestals, each hip containing a radio vacuum tube in its opening. While Tabe’s art developed with Kyūshū-ha, her career has long outlived it. This interview sheds light onto Tabe’s experience as a woman artist in the male-dominant avant-garde environment in the southern region of Kyūshū from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. Gender and sociopolitical dynamics in various art collectives are the primary focus throughout the interview in order to reveal the less examined inner workings of these groups through an artist’s recollection.

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