Inspired by Asian soft porn, Ina Jang's series ‘Utopia’ features silhouetted female bodies that embody passive, girlish stereotypes. Delving into the depiction of women in Korea and Japan, Jang found a striking stereotype in the so-called gravure (or glamour) magazines popular there – women who are shown as girlish and submissive, sporting pink cheeks and a school uniform ‘even if they were older than 25’. For this series she used sickly-sweet acid tones – recognisably hers but also a reaction to the magazines, which use soft, feminine tones.
‘Asian soft-porn images all have something in common – the gaze of the performer and how they perform in front of the camera, assuming really iconic poses. Presumably, they are instructed by someone to behave that way. […] I remembered seeing gravure magazines – essentially watered-down versions of Playboy – in every convenience store in Tokyo. All the females in them are portrayed as passive and helpless, sometimes playful.When I started researching the pornographic visuals, it hit me that there’s a clear formula in the way women are portrayed in them. I printed out some of the images, cut out the body figures and photographed them. From there, I kept making images with similar positions.’ – Ina Jang