‘Do the Right Thing’ at Glendale Library

Glendale’s Library, Arts and Culture Dept. and Glendale Sister Cities – Boeun-gun, Goeseong, Gimpo, South Korea – present Do the Right Thing: Comfort Women Resist. This exhibition showcases the work of nine international artists and documentarians focusing on the narratives of World War II Comfort Women, reflecting on the past and current political and social context of those women sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army.

The exhibition takes place in the ReflectSpace and PassageWay galleries at Downtown Central Library and runs to Sept. 11.

Prior to and during World War II, more than 200,000 women from Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and East Timor were coerced or forcibly transported to various sites – euphemistically termed “comfort stations” – across Japanese occupied territories and repeatedly raped, tortured and brutalized. Most women were under the age of 20, some as young as 12. Many young women were murdered or committed suicide during their enslavement.

“Comfort women” is a Japanese euphemism coined by the military to soften the scope and viciousness of their system of slavery. The Comfort Women Resist exhibit resists the inherent neutrality of this term and Japan’s repudiation of their role in this atrocity. The art on display challenges and subverts accepted historical narratives and draws attention to current-day efforts of reflection and resistance.

Co-curated by Monica Hye Yeon Jun and Ara & Anahid Oshagan, the 2018 exhibition highlights the work of nine artists from four countries deeply connected to the comfort women story.

American-Armenian artist Ara Oshagan, whose work has been informed by multi-generational trauma such as the Armenian Genocide, will exhibit an art installation that resists the erasure of comfort women’s narratives: a large-scale conceptual “comfort station” composed of recent images of comfort women and activists in Korea. “My goal is to craft an immersive experience for visitors,” said Oshagan.

Korean artists Lee + Park draw data about comfort women from the worldwide web to create an ever changing large-scale digital and global portrait; Dutch artist Jan Banning’s intense portraits of Indonesian comfort women casts a light on the wider Asian context; Dokuyama Bontaro, a

Japanese documentarian, connects to the issue with shared stories; American artist Rose Camastro-Pritchett tells comfort women’s stories through intimate sewing and patchwork; artist Yu Kyung Kim presents clear acrylic panels stacked on one another displaying current images of former Japanese military sex station sites, addressing the widespread nature of the sites and the passage of time.

The PassageWay gallery walls are dedicated to comfort woman and artist Duk Kyung Kang. Her artwork will be on display as well as two projects by artist and scholar Kyunji Kwon: an interactive Google map which traces Kang’s journey as a comfort women and the publication of an essay about Kang’s paintings.

The Glendale Library is located at 222 E. Harvard.