juliebartholomew
IVAN DOUGHERTY GALLERY
University of New South Wales,
College of Fine Arts
Selwyn Street Paddington, NSW, Aust
tel. +612 9385 0726
fax. +612 9385 0603
JULIE BARTHOLOMEW
mobile 0408 443668
email [email protected]
PhD ABSTRACT

RAPT AND BRANDED

This PhD in fine art uses an exhibition, Rapt and Branded and an accompanying text to examine the relationship between female body change practices and consumer culture, which is increasingly saturated by visual media. Body change practices may be realised as expressions of an ongoing interconnection between the body/self and the external world, particularly hierarchies of power that mark individuals through gender, ethnicity, class and colour. Body change practices in present day culture have encouraged new perceptions of bodies as no longer subordinate to identity. Instead the malleable postmodern body is integral to the construction of self and consequently, subjectivity is experienced as an interconnected relationship.

Through fieldwork in the media saturated urban environment of Tokyo, Japan it was shown how Western global forces of commodification may be affecting the body change practices of women from dissimilar cultural backgrounds. Japan has reacted to pressure from Euro-American forces in very specific ways that have both shaped contemporary Japanese culture and impacted on its people, specifically the role of Japanese women. Dominant ideologies of female embodiment circulating throughout Tokyo's visual media world, specifically the everyday white face and its various manifestations, have been effected by an ongoing dialogue between Japan and Western cultural influence.

Artists may re-envisage new and alternate body/selves, to affirm the positive value of difference, while sharing a common language with consumer culture. Their art produces disruptive bodies, in highly visible ways, in order to challenge the impact of consumer culture on women's body/selves. Yet their work underlines the fact that anomalous body/selves, within art and life, are also contradictory because they do not exist outside the context of consumer capitalism. Disruptive bodies are troubled by entrenched relations of power while they so spectacularly contest them.

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