Before and during World War II, over 200,000 women from Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and East Timor were coerced or forcibly transported to “comfort stations” by the Japanese Imperial Army. The women became military sex slaves and repeatedly raped, tortured and brutalized. Most were under the age of 20, some as young as 12. Many of the women were murdered or committed suicide during their enslavement.
Reconstruct(ed): Comfort Station re-imagines the Japanese military sex station as a site of resistance. Constructed from current-day images and narratives, the project inverts the institutionalized violence inherent in the sex prison into a space of defiance and action. The project grew out of Ara Oshagan’s trip to South Korea in 2018.
The walls of the Reconstruct(ed): Comfort Station are constructed from two types of images. First are portraits of two comfort women: Kim Bok-dong and Gil Won-ok whose very existence and is an act of defiance and rejection of Japanese attempts of erasure of their history.
Second are images of political activists today engaged in the fight to gain recognition of the comfort women issue internationally. These activists are from organizations, cities es as well as the “Wednesday protests” in Seoul.
The activists who line the outside and inside of the Reconstruct(ed): Comfort Station stand guard and protect the narrative of the two comfort women inside. They are depicted to echo traditional Korean paintings of heroic men and women drawn on stone paper.
Inside the Reconstruct(ed): Comfort Station is a “comfort station” platform-bed. On this bed are cards that tell the narrative of the comfort women, resisting the erasure of history and identity. The audience is welcome to take action and take these cards home.
Metal, wood, fabric, furniture