Chang-jin Lee – Pre-inaugural Exhibit at The Comfort Women Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, 2013
It brings to light the memory of 200,000 young women, referred to as “comfort women,” who were systematically exploited as sex slaves in Asia during World War II, and increases awareness of sexual violence against women during wartime.
The “Re-creation of a Military Comfort Station” is based on historical references including welcome and regulation banners,kimonos, tatami beds, washing bowls, windows, and Japanese name plaques. Videos of former comfort stations in Asia are projected on elements in the room.
Outside, welcoming and regulations banners are hung from floor to ceiling, creating fabric walls. During the war, banners at the entrances of military comfort stations welcomed and attracted soldiers. The written texts in Japanese said such things as “Homeland Military Designated Comfort Station,” “Japanese Girls Dedicating Their Hearts and Bodies in Service,” and “Grand Welcome to Victorious, Courageous Soldiers.”
Inside, videos of former military comfort stations in Asia, including Dai Salon in Shanghai, the first comfort station ever, and former Indonesian comfort stations, are projected on individual elements in the room. On the walls are hung Japanese name plaques. Girls were forced to wear kimonos and use Japanese names. The recreation explores the idea of erased ethnic identity. The artificial made-up Japanese names which the women were forced to use contrasts with their real Chinese names at the entrance to the exhibit.
Despite growing awareness of the issue of trafficking of women and of sexual slavery as a crime against humanity, this particular history has gone largely unacknowledged. COMFORT WOMEN WANTED attempts to bring to light this instance of organized violence against women, and to create a dialogue by acknowledging their place in history.