Tomoko Sawada was born in Kobe, Japan. She works and lives in New York and Kobe.
Sawada studied photography at the Seain University of Art and Design, where she is currently a guest professor.
She uses photography to explore the relationship between people’s inner lives and their outer image. Her works borrow compositional devices from familiar photographic formats such as school portraits, weddings and fashion photography. She restages these in a satirical mode so as to lay bare their stereotypes and assumptions. Predominantly casting herself in the role of model, she has built an extraordinary cast of characters that present a humorous and incisive portrait of Japanese society.
Sawada’s exhibitions and prizes include: 2012, “Factory Direct: Pittsburgh”, Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, USA; “Creating with Light The Manipulated Photograph”, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo; “1st Collection Gallery Exhibition 2012-2013”, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; “In Character: Artists’ Role Play in Photography and Video”, Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Boston, USA; “Nostalgia, East Asia Contemporary Art Exhibition”, MOCA Shanghai, Shanghai, China.
In 2008, she won the Higashikawa prize, photo-eye “Best Books of 2006”; 2004, 29th Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award, The Twentieth Annual ICP Infinity etc.