Recently I commissioned a portrait of horror film-maker Mattie Do from Japanese artist Peach Momoko, whose macabre work I first came across at Designercon 2016 a year ago.
Peach MoMoKo’s art is mostly known in the underground scene in Japan. She regularly exhibits both in Japan and also in the US and Europe. One of Peach Momoko’s main themes is using a mix of propaganda ideas with old-school Japan techniques to examine war, the military, death, and society but also re-imagining images of a nostalgic feel of early 60s Japan. She does a significant amount of her work in black and white. She recently started making comics, movie posters and winning awards in her inking skill. These days, Peach is one of the regular artists published in the US magazine Girls and Corpses and the Japanese magazine, Kikan S.
Mattie Do is the first Lao woman director, and the first Lao horror film director, so being selected as the first foreign film nominee Laos has ever sent to the Oscars, going up against Angelina Jolie’s First They Took My Father, is an exciting distinction. I’m proud of her. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but the necklace depicted here is the one Mattie Do’s mother gave to her from Luang Prabang before her mother passed away.
One of the key questions I ask myself regularly is how we might see Lao, especially Lao women, depicted by other artists on our own terms, especially through the lens of the strange and the macabre. Where is the artistic risk and opportunity?
While a significant number of Lao in our community have a deep love for the strange and the weird, there are many who remain hesitant and afraid to play around with our traditional and modern standards of beauty. It is difficult to encourage one another to challenge how we interact with the standards set (or imposed) by other cultures on what is acceptable to depict when it comes to women, even those Lao on the path of the speculative arts of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If anyone was prepared to go really experimental on this question, it was Mattie Do.
Hopefully, this provides encouragement for more us to be playful and challenge our ideals and standards, and how we might depict ourselves artistically and imaginatively. Can’t wait to see the next work from all of them! 🙂