This work, Rabbit Family on New Years’ Day, repurposes 2 Japanese visual techniques from very different ages.
The 4panel comic (yon-komamanga), a spartan, almost haiku-like pacing often used to tell short, comical or poignant stories, and the sky gradients of Ukiyo-e, this time rendered with a hyperreal vibrancy.
A wordless tale is told of a family of rabbits celebrating the first day of the new year, under a hot Australian sun. They give and receive envelopes of money (showing an idolatry of vegetables!), enjoy a customary feast and fly traditional kites. Intended to be both thought provoking and engaging, children and adults are imagined enjoying exploring the narrative in both directions as they walk between banners.
The work is an exploration of cultural remixing, in 2 different contexts, in both form and narrative. Growing up in Japan, the artist’s experience of the Lunar New Year is one of remixed Chinese traditions and festivals, all through a Japanese lens —subtly different, meanings shifted or translated into new cultural traditions, adding to the rich tapestry of connected cultures.
In a real sense, nothing could be more Australian than to culturally absorb, remix, and recreate, which is what Asian-Australian communities have done with —contributed to —Lunar New Year. It’s familiar, but not quite what you remember.
About the artist:
Yasuko Toda is a Japanese artist and illustrator based in Sydney since 2017. Yasuko’s work draws from the formative experiences of growing up in Tokyo, her relationship with Tunisia and time spent there throughout the Arab Spring in 2012, as well as her emigration to Australia, during which some of the largest bushfires in recorded history ravaged the land. From these emerges a thematic palette of issues as seemingly disparate as Islamophobia, feminism, the immigrant experience and climate change.