Closely examining staged images of Japanese femininity, this study centers on the mid-Meiji souvenir photography of Kusakabe Kimbei, approaching from the artist’s perspective while referencing his culture’s visual and traditional practices. The analysis attempts to construe visual material in its original context using various points of departure, including the sociocultural significance of the staged models, the visual display of the photographic models in relation to the visibility problem of Japanese women in Meiji visual media, and Kimbei’s visual encodings of Japanese femininity. By means of contextualized analysis, this survey seeks to illuminate the intricate structure of significations embedded on the visual plane, ultimately demonstrating how Kimbei’s female images present a locus of multilayered meanings.
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Mio Wakita is a specialist in the art and visual culture of modern Japan. He received his PhD from Heidelberg University in Japanese art history in 2010.
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