Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Miwa Yanagi's Fairy Tale Masks

WARNING: These pictures and ideas are not for everyone. There are disturbing images and suggestions of the 'gruesome nature behind fairy tales' in this artist's work. I am posting what I consider to be the least disturbing of her photographs from the exhibit titled "Fairy Tale".

Despite my warning above, I do think the approach this artist takes is unique and relevant to the study of fairy tales. I'm posting what I consider to be the least disturbing of the set and including some quotes from an article so you can investigate further at your own discretion. The article does NOT include any unsettling images so if the topic interests you, yet you don't wish to see more pics I recommend just clicking HERE.

So what is it all about?

Artist Miwa Yanagi* has been delving into fairy tales to show the feminine role in all its forms (or, due to the use of masks, 'guises' may be a more appropriate term) while simultaneously bucking the traditional Japanese conventions of portraying bijinga (beautiful women pictures - the article linked to discusses this in detail). She combines theatrical techniques in her photographic presentations by way of staging, masks, exaggeration, costumes and metaphoric representation of literary aspects. Currently Yanagi has a number of exhibitions on display. The images shown in this post are from her work titled "Fairy Tale".NOTE: One of my favorite images (not included here in case some find it disturbing) is of a little girl cradling her 'grandmother' in the middle of a cut-open wolf corpse. Although quite a tender scene, there is, of course, some gore shown, albeit not human.

From The Japan Times online:

In the "Fairy Tale" series, Yanagi gives visual form to the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novella "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother," which becomes Yanagi's image "Erendira" ...

... Rather than merely illustrating stories, however, Yanagi deviates from the texts, combining the supposed villainy of the old women in the tales with the innocence of the youthful girls. In "Snow White" (2004) the heroine dons an aged mask of wrinkles before a mirror and hands an apple to her reflected image, suggesting that there is some sort of complicity between the youth and the old woman. In another work, "Cinderella" (2005), further visual interventions occur. Here, a Balthus-like juvenile eroticism is given to Cinderella, around whom gather the three sisters, only one of whom may truly be "ugly," as she hides behind a wrinkled mask.

You can read the rest of the article HERE and see the rest of the eerie pictures from her "Fairy Tale" photo work HERE.

Yanagi's photography is on display at the National Museum of Art, Osaka until September 23rd.

*Miwa Yanagi is considered primarily to be a photographer, though her work encompasses many artistic disciplines.

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