The later 20th century saw the manifestation of the Post-Modernism, in which the use of appropriation and re-contextualisation was developed to test previous conventional depictions of gender in the visual arts. Artists Yasumasa Morimura, Julie Rrap, Anne Zahalka and Cindy Sherman have each employed the use of appropriation to question the historical ideologies of gender, particularly in relation to women, and their role in art and society. They all borrowed past paintings and promoted them with new context to portray and explore different meanings towards gender, being mediated.
Yasumasa Morimura appropriated historical works through the applications of modern technology and questioning the female gender. Morimura also has a scrutiny approach to determine if these historic masterpieces are appropriate in the period of mass media, innovating technology, mass production and growing female deliverance. As he contemplates that the “East meets west in my work, but I haven’t made an attempt to merge the two worlds. They exist in opposition” Through the utilisation of appropriation, Morimura enforces the indulgence of Japanese culture implanting the context of western artworks, questioning the assortment of eastern cultures role in a western-dominated world.
Yasumasa Morimura’s artwork Self-Portrait (Actress) After Marilyn Monroe, 1990 is a photograph where Morimura is posed as the famous actress Marilyn Monroe. The photographic reconstruction is an exploration of both the individual identity and gender of the artist. Morimura is also influenced by cultural, historical and societal issues. In Morimura’s photograph poses at the famous actress Marilyn Monroe wearing make-up and costume. He refers to the female impersonator tradition of the onnagata (female figure, in Japanese), which reminds us that his work deals with cross cultural identity as well as gender identity. His photograph is an exploration of the individual identity and gender identity as well as other social issues such as national identity and global identity. Both gender and Western versus eastern ideas of pop culture concern Morimura. By dressing as a female, it is a quest for self-identity. By presenting himself as Monroe, Morimura explores a different role of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class and time. Morimura explains why he incorporates Western images “I am Japanese, so why am I dealing with Western work? Because it feels as close to me as traditional Japanese art. If I had used a canvas to explore my themes, it would have shown partiality to a Western language, but photographs, I think, are neither Japanese nor Western. They represent my feeling that I exist in between the two worlds".
Re-contextualisation is exhorted by the artist and photographer Julie Rrap as she explores the history of the female figure and representation in the history art. Often replacing previous male produced images of women in historical artworks with images of her, Rrap incites the notion that sexual identity has become an object that is constructed and fixed ultimately through male vision in a patriarchal society, rather than something that is natural. Through use of wit and parody Rrap explores identity and historical representation and context of the female form. She refers to her works as ‘games’, tempting the audience to interact and ‘play’.
In the work “Vital statistics” (1997), the concept Rrap is trying to express it how the female body has been represented. She interprets the world of media and the art world from a female point of view. Rrap’s also adds a sense of humour to her installations that lures the participation of the viewer. Rrap does this so we are made aware of the process of creating this art, and we are also amused by her playful approach to breaking the traditional concept of sculpture as positive space. The negative spaces in the rubber moulds evoke an intimate presence of the artist’s body while building a relationship with the naked...
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