Staff Picks: Mako Idemitsu

Staff Picks: Mako Idemitsu


Mako Idemitsu, Yoji, What Is Wrong With You? (clip), 1987. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.

July 1, 2024
Staff Picks: Mako Idemitsu
Yoji, What Is Wrong With You?: July 1–31
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e-flux Film is very pleased to present the July 2024 edition of our monthly online series Staff Picks, featuring Mako Idemitsu’s psychosexual drama Yoji, What Is Wrong With You? (1987, 17 minutes).

The film examines the identity of woman as mother in Japanese culture, through an Oedipal narrative of a skewed “family romance.” When Yoji announces to his mother that he wants her to meet a new girlfriend, the mother’s jealousy destroys the relationship. Idemitsu’s signature device of using a television monitor within the domestic space works as a powerful metaphor for the ubiquity of the mother in Yoji’s psychological life. Idemitsu’s melodramas always articulate a double-edged irony: With no identity outside of her maternal role, Yoji’s mother fastens onto her son, ultimately destroying him. Yoji himself is seen as emotionally stunted, unable to leave his mother or experience love for any other woman.

Watch the film here.

Mako Idemitsu (b. Tokyo, 1940) creates domestic narratives that examine female identity within the context of the contemporary Japanese family. Echoing and subverting the popular melodramas of Japanese television, she applies a feminist critique to her fictions of the psychological “family romance.” Dramatizing the strict gender roles that shape mother-child and husband-wife relationships, she explores the role of women in a patriarchal, mediated culture. Her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Fukuyama Museum, Tokyo, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Idemitsu has exhibited her works widely throughout Japan and internationally at festivals and institutions including Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE); Ottawa National Gallery, Canada; the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Venice Biennale; Asian-American International Video Festival, New York; Festival du Nouveau Cinema et de la Video, Montreal; Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany; and the Academy of Art, Honolulu. She lives in Tokyo.

Staff Picks is a monthly streaming series on e-flux Film of recommended videos designed to disrupt the monotony of an algorithm. Before the end times of big data, we used to discover suggested content along dusty shelves in video rental stores, where Post-it notes scribbled by shift workers implored us to experience the same movies that made them guffaw, scream, or weep. Sometimes the content bored us, sometimes it overwhelmed us, and sometimes, as if by magic, it was just right. e-flux invites you to relive this rental store mode of perusal, with personalized picks curated through judgment that does not take into consideration your viewing history. 

For more information, contact program [​at​]

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July 1, 2024

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