Between East and West: The Insertion of Yasumasa Morimura’s Self-Portraits in Art History

    • Presentation speakers
      • Mariana Gomes Paulse, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


    From the series Art History (1980s – present day), this paper discusses how the appropriation of iconic western art works by the Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura (Osaka, 1951) deals with important aspects of the construction of identity in contemporary art. The artist selects and inserts himself as the female character in portraits made by Manet, Velasquez, Vermeer, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman and others, but also assumes other identities in his series, such as Hollywood actresses or Japanese iconic figures. His body becomes a field for many and various identities that dispute with his own – as an individual, as an artist – in these carefully planned photographies. He poses as man and woman, oriental and occidental, contemporary and traditional Art History. This transit between various identities brings to the center of the pictures the different ways of presenting and representing oneself and the many possibilities of combining and cohabit this subjectivities. The present analysis seeks to understand the possible identities assumed by the artist in his appropriation of different women in works of art, by digitally inserting his body in this History, making us think not only about the place of women in Art History, but about gender and the different identities assumed in an artwork. To represent certain characters, he recovers various categories used to define identity as race, nationality, ethnicity, social status. His work also shows the fragility of these collective categories in a search for contemporary identities. Those seem to be in a constant negotiation between ancient categories and our own subjectivity in a globalized and constantly shifting world. In these representations build by Morimura, the importance of appropriation of cultural identities that seemed even dichotomous allow new constructions out of diverse characters, strange bodies and roles that creates a sense of belonging beyond stereotyped identities.