Saturday, 8 May 2010

YUIMA NAKAZATO - Suggestions of deathliness

I am beginning to see a pattern re-emerge within the collaborative work of make up artists and designers whose intent is not to identify the model in any meaningful way.  The use of chalk-white to eradicate any identification with personality while heightening facial features, is one that is reminiscent of death masks, and brings to mind 'Dead Things' in Caroline Evans's Fashion at the Edge; Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness.  Here Evans references Efrat Telson's observation of the similiarity between beauty and death rituals, "such as cosmetic surgery which resembles embalming and make-up which resembles a death mask", and in doing so links spectacle and death as the most modern interpretation of the fashioned body.  She also cites Walter Benjamins description of fashion as an attempt to defeat, or transcend death by making the inorganic  commodity (cosmetics with satin finishes for example) the object of human desire.

But the desire to appear 'deathly' through' the whitening of the face has associations with more than the death mask.  History shows that the fascination with face whitening agents has as much to do with cheating death itself by gambling with toxic agents used in cosmetics, as looking pale and interesting.  It is with little irony that our funeral customs often seem to hide the reality of death under the use of cosmetics, literally and figuratively.

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