Laurie Simmons’ Photo Series About Japanese Subculture Of Cosplay

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Laurie Simmons‘ recent show, Kigurumi, Dollers and How We SeeSalon 94 Bowery in New York, features eerie looking photos of dollers (also known as Kiggers), a circle of Japanese cosplay enthusiasts (Kigurumi), who dress up like anime-style female dolls and wear their costumes out in public. The men and women involved in this fascinating ‘counter-cuture’  go to great lengths to suppress any lingering vestiges of their own bodies, wearing 360-degree masks, wigs, and full bodysuits.

Simmons gathers her own models and Doller costumes in order to create her own line of Kiggers.

Some of my cosplayers are men and some are women but they all portray female characters. I try to explore the psychological subtexts of beauty, identity and persona surrounding the assembled Dollers. At first I dressed them only in fetish latex, which seemed both doll-like and right for their identities, but it soon became clear that they needed to expand their repertoire and play dress up.

Along her collection of photographs, we see this odd juxtaposition between the inanimate and the living; how is it possible to be experiencing something both so fake yet so real all at once? It is that and more- Simmons’ gives these ‘dolls’ the opportunity to experience the phenomenon of the selfie (“Yellow Hair / Red Coat / Snow / Selfie” [2014]) and an overall exposure to what is to be present, as something outside of the realm of the average human being, in the current world of self-promotion and its agenda (perfection, beauty, etc). “Might masking (becoming a Kigger, in this instance) be at least part of the appeal of contemporary forms of imaging and presentation of the self via social media?”, asks Simmons.

 In the last decade the boundaries separating identity and persona have become increasingly blurred — as individuals ‘present’ their BEST selves to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers. One tilt of the iphone can make the difference between a glamorous, funny or obscene selfie. I wonder about the fuzzy space between who “we” are to ourselves and the “we” that is invented, constructed and expressed using the readily available tools of the 21st century? Aren’t we all playing dress-up in some part of our lives?

Laurie Simmons: Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See in on view at Salon 94 Bowery (243 Bowery, Lower East Side) through April 27.

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A Peek Into The Home Life Of Cosplay Enthusiasts

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

Just the two of us, Klaus Pichler, 2013

None of the people photographed for Klaus Pichler‘s newest series, “Just the Two of Us” are dressed in Halloween costumes. For this project, Pichler documents Austrians involved with various types of costume play (cosplay)  at home in full costume. By capturing these costumers in their domestic spheres, Pichler allows his subjects the comfort of home, but for objective viewers of the work, the subjects could feel a bit out of place.

“Normally, all the costumes and traditions, they have one thing in common: there is some kind of public use of these costumes,” Pichler explains. Some of his subjects are enthusiastic participants of the Carnival season, which is called Fasching in Austria, while others are part of a LARP – live action role play – community. Pichler even captures portraits of the Krampus and the Perchten – traditional Austrian figures associated with Christmas and Wintertime who are often conflated.

“Who hasn’t had the desire just to be someone else for awhile? Dressing up is a way of creating an alter ego and a second skin which one’s behaviour can be adjusted to. Regardless of the motivating factors which cause somebody to acquire a costume, the main principle remains the same: the civilian steps behind the mask and turns into somebody else…’Just the Two of Us’ deals with both: the costumes and the people behind them.”

Be sure to check out previous posts we’ve done on Pichler’s work here. (via the new york times)

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Ben Pobjoy’s Cosplay Convention


Ben Pobjoy’s Conventional Kids series  is a collection of photographs that were taken of young cosplayers in 2011 at Montreal’s Otakuthon anime convention. The photos document cosplayers, their elaborate costumes, their social interactions and, above all else, their use of constructed identity to facilitate the self-exploration that is necessary to forge one’s own personal identity during adolescence.

While the birth of Japanese animation dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, the characteristic anime style that has since become ubiquitous was first developed by Osamu Tezuka in the 1960s. Now considered the ‘Godfather of Anime’, Tezuka’s early works gained increasing popularity in 1970s Japan and inspired three Meiji University students to organize Comiket in 1975; Tokyo’s first anime convention. Thanks to adaptations of both anime films and television series for overseas markets in the 1980s, the popularity of both anime and its fan-driven conventions soon spread internationally.

 

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