Figure 1. Baptiste 2017. Yasumasa Morimura, Paris Photo Fair Exhibition Grand Pais.
Yasumasa Morimura is Japanese born established contemporary conceptual photographer who uses detailed and elaborate costumes, props and digital editing to transform himself into historical and famous people. Morimura has recreated images from paintings by Johannes Vermeer, Van Gogh and Frida Kohl. While his recreations are seemingly precise, like Cindy Sherman, the images are visibly recognisable to the originals, yet very different and original in their depictions.
Cindy Sherman’s History Portraits make ordinary props extraordinary, Morimura stays faithful to the exactness of the original representations, nevertheless both Morimura and Sherman achieve originality but their quirky disconnection within their historical, conceptual images. Sherman’s steady gaze remind us it’s mainly her and the idea of her subject, likewise with Morimura, he is very much present within his historical subject narrative.
The re-enactment of history in photography will always be subjective, regardless of whether it’s based on facts. The photographer has his or her version of the facts or history they want to share with the viewer. What Sherman and Morimura teach us, is to look beyond what you see, and what you think you know. We can create historical narratives with just about anything as Sherman has shown us, we can be practical and cut costs or we can utilise the power of digital manipulation by dedicating time to the craft to produce exactness. Whatever the photographer decides, the fact that there are multiple options to select from continues to free the photographer from the chains of creative limits.