Kawayoku is a selfmade amalgamation of the two Japanese words Kawaii (cute) + Bōryoku (violence)


Waifu is a term given to fictional female characters- usually animated- that someone has a strong romantic or sexual attraction to. The term is generally considered derogatory when used in male-dominated game sites.

Chapter 4: Power
September 9th 2023

[Please note: The subject matter of Nouras Talk at the Tangle may be disturbing to some viewers, please use discretion when viewing the recording.]

The third speaker in Helsinki was visual artist Noura Tafeche, who presented her harrowing video essay The Kawayoku Inception. Culminating in an archive of over 33000 files collated across 3 years, her body of work analyses and keeps track of visual images at the intersections of tenderness and violence, capitalism and cuteness.

Taking form as an accelerating doom-scroll through internet subculture imagery of waifus and e-girls; Noura’s talk weaves connections across themes of anime fandom, consumption, belonging, self representation and visual forensics. Her documentation primarily originates from social media platforms, where algorithms proliferate increasingly extreme memes, images and videos that grow from ironic internet cringe into a mechanism of male (and state) dominance. At its crescendo; tafeche’s essay examines the collision of the military industrial complex with kawaii culture to manifest both soft and hard war propaganda, blurring the boundaries between violence and fetishisation. Through tiktoks from young female soldiers exposing their cleavage and assault rifles; sexuality and cuteness become mechanisms of geopolitical military power, softening public concerns of war crimes by kawaii-washing tactical industries.

In stark relief to the subject matter of her research, Tafeche’s innate warmth and generosity of knowledge guided the audience in Helsinki through this “digital jungle” – and opened a space for collective thinking and public debate in the deconstruction of an image from her archive that held space for the honest vocalisation of assumptions. Within the Q&A, Tafeche explains how she navigates the personal toll that her research has taken – long-term exposure to such imagery has its consequences. We are grateful for Noura’s willingness to share her research with us at the Tangle – and if you wish to delve further head to https://nouratafeche.com/the-kawayoku-inception 

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