2009 Animated film of soy sauce drawing Duration: 1 min. (looped) Courtesy of Tina Takemoto
Tina Takemoto is a queer fourth-generation Japanese American artist and scholar based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her M.F.A. in visual art from Rutgers University and Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester. She is associate professor at California College of the Arts.
Takemoto has presented artwork and performances internationally and has received grants funded by Art Matters, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her film Looking for Jiro (2011) received Best Experimental Film Jury Award at the Austin LGBT International Film Festival.
Her articles appear in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, Afterimage, Millennium Film Journal, Art Journal, GLQ, Journal of Visual Culture, Performance Research, Radical Teacher, Theatre Survey, Women and Performance, and the anthologies Queering Asian American Art, Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories and Thinking Through the Skin. Takemoto serves on the board of the Queer Cultural Center and is co-founder of Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts.
My work explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality among Japanese Americans imprisoned by the US government during World War II. Depictions of queer wartime history are rare. As a fourth-generation Japanese American, I grew up hearing family stories about camp, but no one ever mentioned same-sex intimacy in the camps. Unlike most gender-segregated prisoners, Japanese Americans were incarcerated by family unit and pressured to conform to heterosexual norms. My work adopts a playful and political approach to Japanese American identity, queer sexuality, and historical memory. Looking for Jiro is a multimedia project inspired by Jiro Onuma, a dandy gay bachelor who admired musclemen and worked in the mess hall while imprisoned at Topaz incarceration camp in Utah. This project imagines how Onuma survived the isolation, humiliation, and heternormativity of imprisonment through animated soy sauce drawings, drag king performance, experimental music video, homoerotic bread making, and the hand-crafted art of “gentleman’s gaman.”
- Born: California, USA
- Based: San Francisco, CA, USA