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Contemporary art

Western art


Asian art

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Hiroko, from the series My grandmothers



Miwa Yanagi


1967 -


Yanagi Miwa was born in Japan in 1967. Educated at Kyoto University of Fine Art, she first came to prominence with her photographs of Japanese elevator girls which have been shown in Australia at the Melbourne Biennial 1999 and at the Museum of Contemporary Art's 'Neo-Tokyo' exhibition 2001-2002. This substantial series portrayed these women out of their usual context but still within identifiable work locales - as though it were after hours. For a foreign audience the tension in these works was in the slippage between what could be real or fantasy. Yanagi's new series 'My Grandmothers' is a homage to ageing and to the diverse dreams and fantasies of her subjects. Working with a group of young women (and some men), Yanagi asked them to describe and image what they would be like in 50 years time. The series is full of irony and wit and, unlike the elevator girls, is extremely active and bright in content and tone. 'My Grandmothers', according to Mika Monique Yoshitake, '... allows us to visualise our own aged selves and imagine a maternal ancestor that we have never met, transgressing past and future.'




Media category


Materials used

type C photograph + text




photograph: 120.0 x 144.0 cm image/sheet; text: 30.0 x 36.0 cm sheet :

a - photograph, 120 x 144 cm, image/sheet

b - text, 30 x 36 cm, sheet

Signature & date

Signed label verso photograph, black fibre-tipped pen "Yanagi Miwa". Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by Martin Browne, Jo Braithwaite, Leon Rogan, Erin McCartin, Patrick Flanagan, Michel Lemaitre, Erick Valls, Annette Larkin, Chris Bruce, Ildiko Kovacs 2002


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Miwa Yanagi

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


George Alexander, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Tableaux - memento mori - screen culture', pg.313-335, Sydney, 2007, 319.

Ewen McDonald (Editor), 2002 Biennale of Sydney: (The World May Be) Fantastic, Sydney, 2002, 239 (colour illus.). no catalogue numbers

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Photography', Sydney, 2003, 294 (colour illus.).

Jane Somerville, Look, 'The familiar made strange', Sydney, May 2007, 20.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Yokohama Triennale, Japan, 2001, 132.