Michiko Okano

Michiko Okano holds a PhD in Communication and Semiotics and is Assistant Professor in the History of Asian Art at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). She also serves as Guest Lecturer in the Graduate Program at the Japanese Studies Center of the University of São Paulo (USP) and Coordinator of the Asian Art Study Group (GEEA). Okano is the author of Ma: in between spaces of art in Japan (Annablume, 2011) and Manabu Mabe (Folha de S.Paulo, 2013). Her curatorial projects include Olhar InComum: Japão Revisitado (UnCommon Gaze: Revisited Japan) (Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, 2016). Okano’s research focuses on the dialogue created by the migration of art and artists between Japan and the West, with a particular focus on Nipo-Brazilian artists.

Updated January 2018

culture en pt

Transpacific Borderlands: Japanese Brazilian Artists

I was born in Japan, and when I was eight years old my parents decided that we were going to emigrate to Brazil. We spent forty long days aboard the Sakura-maru as it crossed the Pacific Ocean, which made the distance between the two countries seem even wider. As the years went by in Brazilian lands, the issue of identity grew into something markedly present in my life: my original culture and the local one were brought face to face—sometimes they collided, at other times they drifted apart, at yet other times they merged. As a result, whether I belonged to “here” or “…

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identity en pt

Living in a Space in Between

I was born in Japan, but I crossed the ocean to Brazil when I was eight years old aboard a ship on which I spent 40 long days—very different from the 24-hour flights needed nowadays to make that same trip. When I disembarked on Brazilian soil, I found it strange to see all the different races, and I loved to eat loads of bananas, which, in Japan, were difficult to get because of the prohibitive prices back then. I remember hating it whenever someone kissed my face or pinched my cheeks, saying, “Cutie.” Those were my first experiences of skin-on-skin contact, something I w…

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