UKIYO-E BETWEEN POP ART AND (TRANS)CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
Text topic: Context in Arts and Media
- cultural appropriation
Text author: Срђан Тунић
This essay is based on a curatorial research of Muhamed Kafedžić – Muha’s artworks and our collaboration 2012-2015. The work juxtaposes, on the one hand, the paintings of this Sarajevo-based artist and, on the other hand, questions the meaning and applicability of cultural appropriation theories on his work. The goal is to present a complex procedure of appropriation of processes and styles in art history, in Kafedžić’s example a hybrid of Japanese ukiyo-e woodcuts (17th to 19th centuries) and the USA Pop art painting (20th century), predominantly by Roy Lichtenstein. By contextualizing the artworks in question and using an innovative approach, the original templates are transformed with a set of new meanings and readings. With great knowledge and respect of the original artworks and authors, Muha’s research is deep and visible in his appropriation method. In the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the intention has been to emphasize how Muha’s artwork has an element of dislocation and outsideness, regarding both the place and the national tradition, which consequentially develops into a trans-cultural perspective, using Japanese (pop) art as a trans-national networking point. Among the referenced artworks are series such as “100 Views of Ukiyo-e, Volume I: Masters”, showing homage to ukiyo-e masters from the 17th to the 19th century with a variety of subject-matter (theater, mythology, erotica, samurai, courtesans, landscapes, animals), playing with a context of Bosnia and Herzegovina as in “History re-painting” and “36 Odd Views of Sarajevo”, “100 Great Waves” as an homage to and street art/mural reinterpretation of Hokusai’s famous painting “Great Wave of Kanagawa”, as well as “Utamaro Lichtenstein” which playfully and directly references both Lichtenstein and Hokusai, demonstrating the two core influences of Muha’s work.