ESSAY: Yasumasa Morimura’s Blinded by the light
In this large landscape photograph, Yasumasa Morimura adopts various roles within a single composition. While the work could be read as an ironic view of 1980s consumer excess, closer inspection reveals the artist’s layers of meaning against a background lifted from Pieter Bruegel’s painting Parable of the blind 1568. Each of the protagonists (played by the artist himself) is blinded or masked by an element of his or her own personal paraphernalia: a baby is covered in heavy lacy clothing, an artist is weighed down by his tools of trade, a soldier wears a pair of hand grenades in lieu of field glasses, and, most conspicuously, a flamboyant parody of a Ginza shopper is outfitted in designer garb, groaning under an abundance of jewellery and shopping bags. One of these bags is labelled ‘Morimura’, suggesting a self-referential critique of the commodification of art and of the successful artist as an identifiable ‘brand’.