Saturday 22 December 2012
Pitt Rivers Museum is concerned with the repatriation not of artefacts but of photographic images and not with their physical repatriation but with what he describes as their ‘spiritual repatriation’. Christian is an Aboriginal artist and Oxford student and in We Bury Our Own he presents eight photographic self-portraits and a video installation based on his response to the Australian photographic collection at the Pitt Rivers Museum.
I was captivated by his methodology rather than the images he produces. In his artist’s statement he describes his process: ‘I lamented the passing of the flowers at the meadow, I lit candles and offered blood to the ancestral beings, looked into the black sparkling sea, donned the Oxford garb, visited the water by fire light and bowed at the knees of the old father ghost gum. I asked the photographs in the Pitt Rivers Museum to be catalysts and waited patiently to see what ideas and images would surface in the work.’
The photographs in the ethnographic archive have a direct and spiritual connection to the people depicted in them. Christian uses his art as a vehicle to deliver the spirit of the images back to the land through his self-portraits incorporating ideas about his transcultural identity. His work links to meditation and the votive. In some images he places crystals on his eyes to channel the spiritual world into the physical, and photographs himself in this way, in formal Oxford dress with the addition of flowers, butterflies, textiles or other artefacts. The resulting images appear strange and incongruous perhaps mirroring the very idea of ethnographic collections.
Thursday 13 December 2012
Sunday 9 December 2012
Having just been to Japan, I spent time in some of the department stores admiring the kimono and obi fabrics. I was also pleased to see so many women wearing the kimono on the streets and when visiting shrines and temples. I saw these three girls on the way to the Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto wearing their beautiful traditional kimono. I also saw some examples of the ‘sweet’ style of clothing, the photo below was taken in the Takeshita dori area of Tokyo. This style of overgrown girlishness seems slightly sinister to me though and reminiscent of Grayson Perry in his alter ego Claire.
Visiting the V&A Japanese galleries last week revealed that there are even more styles of modern Japanese clothing. The exhibition there shows examples of the sweet, gothic and punk styles as well as the Japanese Lolita look. The latter differs from the others because it is based on traditional dress rather than on Western dress. Examples range from the demure kimono by Mamechiyo Modern to designs by Takuya Angel whose work is based on machismo and samurai armour.
The photo above shows a demure kimono by Mamechiyo Modern in the V&A exhibition. Her aim according to the accompanying label is to make the kimono an affordable everyday form of clothing. She incorporates non-Japanese elements into her designs such as the headdress, choker and lace embellishments. As a Western viewer I think the traditional kimono is beautiful as it is and I can’t see the need to add foreign elements to it but perhaps if you have grown up with the traditional types you want something a bit different.