"Still from Dialogue with Myself (Encounter)” by Yasumasa Morimura (1995, DVD projection)
Morimura act as the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and also the accompanist. "They" appears, then disappears, then appears, over and over.
Yasumasa Morimura is a Japanese and he performs “cross-racial, cross-cultural, and cross historical identifications” in some of his art work.
In the past, artists emphasized on the significant of self that act independently. For them, identity means individual identity. They thought that the true self was a free individual.
But in recent artists’ view, identity is always in flux, artificially constructed and it is transformable in different situation and groups. Identity refers to social and cultural identity. We perform differently in classroom, at home, with family or with boss. Morimura is one of them.
Morimura use his images which he photograph himself to disconcert viewers. He tries to make the viewers feel uncertain whether they are looking at a male or female.
In the projection, we can see that Morimura act as female and also male at the same time. This blurs the boundary of gender. He tried to show us that identity is not fixed. It can be constructed and transformable.
We can distinguish a person is male or female visually by clues such as hairstyle, pose and gesture. So Morimura uses these factors, with the help of makeup and costume to blur the gender boundary. He challenges the notion of gender. He draws attention to gender that it is only a role we play in the society. He shows us that identity is relational and in flux. We construct and perform artificial identity.
In my opinion, identity is really shaped by the social and culture influence.
If I was born in the past Chinese Dynasty, it was common to have a queue hair. But it is strange to have a queue hair nowadays as the culture is different from the past.
If I stay in a society, my happy face is marked as basic identity. If I meet new people in new place, I can have a sad face and become another identity. Or if I never meet any people, my face is useless for my identity. This is similar to our identity on the Internet. We can have different identities on different websites.
As a member of the group named “boy”, I know that it is commonly regarded as a strange if I wear skirt on the street. I should wear what most people think is suitable.
Morimura interests me because he is an Asian man who pretends to be a female in his artworks which he photographs by himself, especially those famous people. He bring the people in the past and identify with them no matter he or she is. This practice is known as “temporal drag” by Elizabeth Freeman. It means Morimura "pulls the figures in the past to now" to show what he want to.