Maidens Sans Frontiers: Japanese Girl Culture in Australia is an exhibition that both celebrates and investigates contemporary Japanese girl culture as it manifests in Australia. Showcasing cosplay costumes, fashion items, photographs, video, postcards, books, manga, collectibles, Maidens Sans Frontiers is a collection of artefacts that inspired our co-authored academic book Maidens Sans Frontiers: Girl Culture in Japan and Beyond (Routledge 2022). In addition to the artefacts themselves, this exhibition features expert commentary.
Maidens Sans Frontiers: Japanese Girl Culture in Australia is a touring exhibition that is designed for general public consumption teamed with several targeted events enabling audiences to engage with the exhibition and research in more depth. The exhibition will have both online and in-person components.
Our goal is to bring together diverse visual, physical and digital artefacts to build public appreciation and understanding of shōjo culture’s international appeal. These items come from our personal collections and will be framed by heartfelt commentary displayed with the items and online which will interpret the objects’ personal and academic connections to show how academic research often becomes an all-consuming passion, and how fandom and creative pursuits can also translate into academic research in Japanese studies. The exhibition will offer a series of workshops to local school students, university students, and community members about Japanese popular culture
“shojo” or “shoujo” 少女 can be translated to mean “girl” – but there are no one for one replacements in translation.
There are many other words in Japanese that are used more frequently in everday speech to mean “girl” – 女の子 (onna no ko – young woman), お嬢さん (ojyousan – something like mistress or young lady), 乙女 (otome – maiden).
Shojo as a word is perhaps most commonly used when talking about things like shojo manga or shojo literature – about tropes and genres.
The figure of the girl is a liminal or marginal one – too old to be a child, but too young to be burdened by the responsibilities of adult femme presenting individuals and women. Although constrained by her role in society, she has a degree of freedom and agency to selfishly persue a love of reading or wearing frilly dresses or living out daydreams of an imagined Europe.
This exhibition brings together items from the personal collections of academics working on shojo culture – Dr Lucy Fraser (UQ) and Dr Emerald L King (UTAS), with contributions from Dr Megan Rose (UNSW). The curation and copy were provided by Emily Wakeling who was one of the curators for the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial held at Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art.
For each of us, the shojo takes a different role in our work.
Lucy’s work focuses on the pleasures of metamorphisis – exploring the changes of the shojo’s physical body from child to adult, but also human to bird, goddess or mermaid, in literature and manga.
Emerald’s work skews towards the darker and bloodier end of shojo culture – focussing on the horror inherent in being a girl. Emerald also looks at figures who are not girls – either because they have ‘aged out’ or because they were barred from girlhood in the first place.
Megan’s work is predominately concerend with sociological interraction with girls involved in Tokyo’s vibrant street fashion culture. She is adamant about giving these women a voice rather than viewing them as objects of study.
The objects that are included in the exhibition are above all talismans and touch points for key moments in our collective research journey – they are objects imbued with stories.
Look through the ‘Exhibits’ folder for more information.
All prices have been set ‘at cost’ so you are only paying for your item.