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July 03, 2008|PAUL YOUNG

As someone who has such a common name and is often mistaken for others, I've always enjoyed artists who toy with identity issues. One of my favorite conceptual pieces by Bruce Conner was one in which he wanted to contact all the Bruce Conners he could find, invite them to a convention and give them name tags.

I was thinking of that when I saw the work of the young Japanese artist Tomoko Sawada at Santa Monica's Rose Gallery (ends Aug. 23; rosegallery.net). Among her many projects is a series called "School Days" (2004), in which she created classroom photos of more than 40 uniformed schoolgirls, with her playing each and every girl.

Her current series, "Bride," follows the same trajectory, only now she's portraying herself as recent brides in traditional Japanese gowns. Like her previous series, it's fascinating to see how she can convey different personalities, not so much by clothing, hairstyles and weight fluctuations, but by expression alone.

Other artists have played with constructed identities. Yet Sawada is less concerned with imitating specific women as she is in mistaken identities. Like Conner, she has a sense of humor: "The most pleasurable thing is to move people," she says. "People often laugh when they are moved."

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-- theguide@latimes.com

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