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Yasumasa Morimura Self-portrait (Actress) after Vivien Leigh 2
Yasumasa Morimura Self-portrait (Actress) after Vivien Leigh

Yasumasa Morimura, Self-portrait (Actress) after Vivien Leigh 2, 1996

Since the early 1980s, Yasumasa Morimura has been transforming himself into notable subjects from history with extensive props, costumes, makeup, and recently, digital manipulation. He produces uncanny and satirical recreations of iconic images, often from the canon of Western art history, as well as portraits of celebrities and political figures of post-war Japanese society. These self-portraits challenge and subvert the rigid codes of body, identity, and desire by engaging with a number of tangled images and issues surrounding race, sexuality, and gender.

While contemplating Japan’s complex absorption of Western culture, Morimura has explored the obscure state of being oneself by using his body, an Asian male body, which has been marginalized and feminized in contrast to the masculinity of the West. Within the traditional scope of self-portraiture, his practice unfolds temporally, engaging with the past, but also dragging the effects of history into contemporary culture.

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