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Unlike the latter, the otaku carry an independent streak of rebellion against the corporate structure, but in an affable way that is appealing to ideals of democracy and independence. The bags were an instant hit. Just as kawaii was absorbed and made benign by mainstream Japan, the artist distils the otaku into a brand as the face of a consumable Japanese youth culture. The fashion house sold its wares in the museum grounds in an exclusive Louis Vuitton store during the length of the exhibition.

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The store was among the exhibition rooms featuring artworks. At the Brooklyn Museum exhibition opening, stalls were set up outside, appearing to sell counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags, but were actually selling authentic goods. By legitimizing the otaku, Murakami tampers with a Western stereotype of Japanese identity, hovering between desirability and otherness.

His otaku is made benign by kawaiification. Playing with the two seemingly opposite stereotypes, Mori cultivates the status of celebrity artist, effacing any trace of where her sense of identity truly resides. In many ways, Mori is the Madonna as in pop music of the visual arts scene, providing the idea of a transmutable and transformative personae as a medium. It is graciously and knowingly amenable to art historical, cultural, theoretical, and non-theoretical readings alike. They find Hiropon too blatantly eroticized, and consider it a parody, due to its size and phallic nipples.

She includes a variety of works exploring Celtic and mid-Jomon era BC Japanese rituals and symbols. Works such as Tom Na H-iu , and Flatstone speak to ideas of universality and ideas of eternal life. As a kind of visual palimpsest, she is a form upon which desires can be inscribed, erased, and rewritten again and again. Her persona fulfills the traditional and contemporary Orientalist desire for Japanese women.

The transient identity is part exotic, dangerous temptation, part subservient plaything, and part redemptive source of salvation. Mori does not establish a fully developed subject, and instead cultivates a persona that exists in the realm of desirable object. She never fully inhabits adulthood in relation to sexuality; she exists only as eroticized childlike object, or as an asexualized spiritual being. Both artists only manage to temporarily destabilize the legitimacy of Japanese stereotypes. Their unstable identities offer glimpses of a complicated Japaneseness, but the complexities are essentially lost in translation.

To This is in reference to the way that the kogyaru controls her sexuality through the exchange of sexual favours. The extent to which these fictive personae represent aspects of Mori's real self or desires is open to speculation, undeterminable as even Mori's own account would have to be viewed skeptically , and ultimately beside the point.

Such representations are the reality of working within the international art field, where tastes are often dictated by New York City. Not only does the city hold the highest concentration of commercial galleries in the U. In the present global scheme, American mass culture is accorded higher prestige, and also tends to appropriate exotic elements from other cultures. In her book Gender Trouble, Butler speaks of enacting a gendered reality through the citation of conventions and ideologies of the social world, where these very conventions and ideologies are constructions in themselves.

While they do manage to destabilize the stereotypes by playing disparate identities against themselves, the superficial dominates. However, there is interest in non-Western contemporary art. Some argue that these international exhibitions of art are vehicles that open the market, enable cultural exchange, and encourage a confluence of styles. Indirectly, they show how national or cultural identity has been appropriated by corporate marketing strategies, and how these strategies are intimately aligned with artistic production. Stallabrass argues that events like biennales produce a demand for art that celebrates neoliberal ideals of globalization such as the mobility of labour and the linked virtues of multiculturalism.

They highlight the diversity of the international labour market, but do not necessarily speak to the plight of the individuals nor accord any true political voice. Other popular Japanese cultural products have also found their way into American metropolitan culture. While fashion was once relegated to high- end fashion designers like Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo, newer younger designers like Jun Takahashi and A Bathing Ape are infiltrating the street wear market in the West. They profit from the uncertain relationship between art and commerce, and the ways that ethnicity, culture and nationality are used as branding tools.

They play the line dangerously close to sensationalism and market branding, replicating the more radical notions of Japan. Murakami does not actually show the boring, staid image of a traditional businessman, nor does Mori show a woman who represents the traditional image of a housewife.

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They compound the idea of ambivalence by at once maintaining the division between fine art and popular culture, and then by questioning it. On the one hand, Mori calls for the spiritual re-enchantment of art. Her works recall an earlier period when high art and spiritual revelation were supposedly tied together and discrete from market demands. She claims sincerity in her spiritual aspirations, condemning materialism and commercialism.

Everything is looked at in a very materialistic way now.

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The human has a body and character Hello Kitty, has found a sizeable niche in the United States, and has even paired up with the fashion designers Heatherette with the Hello Kitty Couture by Heatherette line in As Japanese cultural products have grown in popularity, the U. Since the s, American popular culture has dwindled in popularity lowered Hollywood ticket sales and American book sales as well as diminished interest in American style restaurants and even English language classes. We need to think about the balance between them. Wave UFO provides viewers with one quick seven-minute session to attain spiritual harmony.

It is an easily disposable method for relieving social malaise through an aesthetic visual experience based upon cultural appropriation. She promises spiritual enlightenment and offers a false sense of security in the future of technology. Mori glosses over the negative effects of religion and technology on society and the environment , and the reality of unequal access to technology. She is never viewed as blasphemous, nor is she criticized for appropriating the cultural trappings of various Asian religious and ethnic groups. Despite receiving sponsorships from cosmetics company Shiseido and playing dress-up for photo shoots in Hixson, April , , in King, With the advent of Buddhism in Japan, a caste structure developed.

People handling dead animals such as leather workers, butchers, etc. Known as the Burakumin, or people of the hamlet, they are also often rather derogatorily referred to as eta full of pollution , or hinin non- person. Although it is easier for the Burakumin to hide their caste status today, they are still discriminated against in Japan. Often their lineage is revealed in investigations instigated by potential marriage candidates or employers. It is difficult to know where the act begins and ends.

However, Murakami also critiques the Japanese market for its lack of interest. He claims that his partnership with Louis Vuitton was driven by the fact that there was no market for contemporary art in his native land, and that this collaboration resulted in an expanded Japanese appreciation of his fine art works.

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Vogue, August Arts and Leisure Desk, p. Even though his actions speak loudly of an attitude that embraces the marketing of art and conflates it with Japanese cultural identity, his point of view remains elusive. He profits from moving effortlessly from fashion to art, as well as from the idea that art and fashion are distinct. They both aim to please and to satisfy desires of the consumer. Just as evasive about the nature of fine art and its relations to popular culture, they are also reticent about admitting how much their identities have been purloined into branding their art.

The ways in which Mori and Stallabrass, This is despite the fact that the artwork and the bags are produced in the same manner: designed by Murakami, factory-produced by the hands of others, and replicated in limited editions. Hauser, Their works establish the means by which identity, and in this case national identity through culture, has been usurped by globalization as a marketing tool, where the concept of Japan as a brand comes to the fore.

Their ambivalence about self-Orientalizing points to issues central to Japanese cultural production in the international framework whereupon the Japanese have self-Orientalized in relation to the waning sense of cultural stability.

It is an art we can only view passively. Its faux-spirituality makes me want to puke. Mori and Murakami broker the tendentious relationship between Japan and the U. However, the international economy of desire still makes demands for national identity based upon cultural homogeneity. As such, with its history of self- During the occupation, the U.

S military presence in Japan, as well as an undeclared rearmament in accordance with the U. Cold War strategy ; and the establishment of the conservative the Liberal Democratic Party LDP that has ruled almost consistently for over fifty years, drafting and implementing policy with the input of elite bureaucrats.


The idea that such garments were worn for fashionable purposes is debatable, with fashion historians now regarding such claims sceptically. Now a teddy bear has a greater claim to humanity than the black people it mocks. Oil on wood, They soon discovered that most of the visitors talking about their products were men. Their ambivalence about self-Orientalizing points to issues central to Japanese cultural production in the international framework whereupon the Japanese have self-Orientalized in relation to the waning sense of cultural stability. Entertainer Madonna began the trend in the s when she wore a con. Catalogue "Trousseau department", "Grands Magasins' du Louvre,

London; New York: Verso, As Masanori Oda points out, between Japan and the West and specifically the United States , there is a kind of reciprocity. Like the kogyaru, the artists exploit their designation as brands within the global economy: Murakami as the infallible businessman who, like the Toyota brand, seemingly understands the U. Mori and Murakami blame consumer culture and the U. Global economic demands have encouraged not only a false sense of distinct cultural identity grounded upon national divisions, but have also encouraged a superficial reading and consumption of these cultural identities.

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The importance lies in how their works are looked at, not what they look like. Desire is based upon perception and not necessarily understanding. Play with Me and SMP ko2 are successful in the international realm because they appeal to outside desires of what the viewer thinks Japan should represent, not of what the works actually represent.

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The ways in which they manage the particularities of Japanese subculture and the fracturing of a homogeneous vision through the convergence of pop cultural tropes such as kawaii, technology, the feminine and sexuality highlight the decline of Japan as a cohesive nation-state. Since the s, visible youth groups such as the kogyaru and the otaku have become the faces of a pluralized society rebelling against social conventions of the immediate post-war generation.

In the international purview of their works, Japanese cultural specificity gives way to Western homogenization. There is a reason that both artists held exhibitions entitled Made in Japan, and have made their Japanese origins widely known through their art and through the cultivation of their personae. The artists align themselves with a carefully scripted idea of Japaneseness, inserting themselves into already existing roles such as the businessman, the otaku, the kogyaru, and the spiritual medium, and reiterating a brand of Japaneseness whose threat is always made benign.

It is an unfinished immature vision of Japanese culture. However, Mori and Murakami are not simply acting the role of savvy capitalists, taking advantage of market demands. Their dependence upon the international commercial viability of Japanese cultural branding embodies the crisis of Japanese representation.

In the s, with its fallen economy and heterogeneous population, Japan no longer sustained a cohesive national identity. Regardless of the fact that the particularities of their representations are lost in translation, their works become part of a larger economic exchange of identity. Aware of their status as Japanese cultural products, they embrace the Oriental brand. Art is a commodity, and culture is a brand for national identity. They and their works are only a small part of the larger exchange of the Japanese cultural product.