How Do the Works of Yasumasa Morimura, Julie Rrap and Anne Zahalka Challenge Conventional Ways in Which Gender Has Been Depicted Historically in the Visual Arts?

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Structured Essay
Examine selected artworks by:
Yasumasa Morimura, Julie Rrap and Anne Zahalka.
How do the works of Yasumasa Morimura, Julie Rrap and Anne Zahalka challenge conventional ways in which gender has been depicted historically in the visual arts?

In your response select at least two different artists and discuss the following: * Through the postmodern frame of reference, explain how artists have appropriated historical artworks. How has the artist incorporated parody and wit into the work? In what way has the artist questioned the values implied in the original artwork? * Explain ways in which the artist has become the subject of the work. What issues does this raise about the, role of the artist, Subject matter, art world and audience. * How does the artist examine historical representations of male and female stereotypes in the visual arts? How do perceptions change across cultures?

Julie Rrap
The works of contemporary artists such as Yasumasa Morimura, Julie Rrap and Anne Zahalka recontextualize the way gender is attributed with art via the post-modern frame. The main channel used to achieve this idea has involved the reversal of roles of gender, where the woman is depicted as the dominant character and the man must subjugate and adjust himself to suit her body position. The artworks targeted by these renowned artists are well known established pieces that are historically rich and evaluate the zeitgeist of their time; these traits are still evident within the metropolis of today. All three artists focus on the theme of gender and all seek to challenge the traditional view of the role of gender in visual art, yet their individual target audience centres on different facets of society, though what holds true is their voyeur. Yasumasa Morimura chooses to shock the viewer by replacing the female role with himself; this appropriation challenges our attitudes towards arts masterpieces and whether they are still valid in this time of mass media and modern technology. Julie Rrap follows in suit with Morimura and substitutes herself into the position of the women portrayed, but rather than solely challenging the authenticity of artworks she also challenges the ‘male gaze’ by placing the spectator into the position of ‘peeping tom’. Anne Zahalka confronts the issue of female identity within art through her examination and deconstruction of European art; she then puts forward notions of her perception of the mediated pieces through photographic theatre, a trait associated with Morimura.

Anne Zahalka

Yasumasa Morimura is an internationally renowned Japanese artist who inspires much controversy in regard to the aspects of society that display the traits of Western assimilation, capitalism, and the values of gender; he is a true post-modernist for he challenges the main-stream values of society. His manipulations of Western ideals within Japanese culture have permeated his artworks that stand as testaments to his perception of modern cultural currents in Japan. Morimura’s mastery over the art of self-portraiture and his comprehension of the western world has allowed him to transform into an androgynous spectator surveying not only the audience but also the act being performed on stage that is illuminated by the harsh spotlight of society. Yasumasa Morimura’s appropriated work, Daughter of Art History: Theatre B (1998) is based on the much attributed work by Edouard Manet, The Bar at the Folies Bergere (1989). Morimura has replaced the female with himself through the production of photographic theatre; via this means he has allowed himself the ability to involve numerous installations within the piece; the wine bottles and bench top are real and have been painted to give the essence of a painting. This work displays the collaboration of Eastern and Western cultures, to create an unsettling piece that solidifies society’s view ‘to expect the unexpected’ from post –modernists, such as...
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