Understanding Contemporary Media Representation and Identity


UnderstandingContemporary Media: Representation and Identity

UnderstandingContemporary Media

Mostsignificantly, modern art or media cannot go far without the supportof traditional one. Therefore, modern artists attempt to come up withsoothing more unusual and unique. In addition, modern artists findthat the only means of making something new is to derive from thepast. This is quite true for most of the fiber artists, who use mediaand art techniques that are usually borrowed from traditional pieceof art. The proposition that modern art is Western and traditionalart is not Western, do not take into consideration the hybridizationof the two that has emanated from globalization. For example, abiracial John Feodorov’ work ludicrously confronts with stereotypesof Native Americans, as presented in his blended-media sculpture.However, this paper seeks to explain how artists such as Feodorov andCassil confront and critique negative culture stereotypes and also toexplore the reasons for discrimination against cultures that embracesmedia or art representation.

CaseStudy Artists


JohnFeodorov, a biracial artist, encountered early cultural differencesin his dual heritages (Stallings,2003).Additionally, he observed the stereotypes that existed in NativeAmerican culture, where people were idealized as mere livingincarnation of spirituality. Thus, his art of work addresses such aclichéd contemporary archetype through a comical utterance of“consecrated” items into decipherable consumer products. Forexample, thorough his kitschy series, “Totem Teddy”, addedtotemic markings and masks to overfed toy bears followed by bookletsregarding bears to “satisfy the spiritual consumer needs of allages”. In such a video, it thoughtful to argue that it was actuallyoriginal to choose something such as teddy bear and transform it intoa something else and grant it power. However, he argues that teddybear is significant in his culture, and using something like this asa symbol and putting it into such a bear, changes the real meaningbehind teddy bear. It is really comical the way he takes familiarthings and transforms them into more meaningful demonstration of theoriginal concept. For example, in the video, “Office Deity”,Feodorov takes the concept of an office and transform it to somethingelse with elaborate symbolic meaning.

Inaddition, John Feodorov argues that the main theme of his work isfounded on the manner in which Native Americans are depicted,stereotyped, and even studied in Modern American society (King,2010).An example of most studied group in the world is Navajo Nation. Inreaction to this, Feodorov mixes such analytical critique withsculptural objects and installations that are time and againwhimsical. Mythical, and fantastic, bringing about a new andintermittently, genuine sense of consecrated – inviolability formodern, splintered times.


HeatherCassils, from collaborative feminist artist group, presented lesspatronizing and less biased critique concerning gender. When she washired to perform in a live concert (VB46), she tried to subvert theperformers, whom she considered objectified and homogenized, bymaking them participate in a critique dialogue (InDahlberg, 2012).She had instructions to sit down upon becoming tired, but Cassilsargued that she would remain standing for three hours as a sign ofprotest. She argued that standing would symbolize her resistance andstrength. This means that she was ready to defy gender norms atwhatever cost. In addition, she is an artist who can use her physicalbody as sculpture mass through which societal norms can be ruptured.Cassils also comes up with a visual language that once conceptuallyincisive and emotionally striking as can be drawn from feminism,conceptualism, gay male aesthetics, and body art, as well as fromHollywood Cinema. Bashing through binaries, she performs transgendernot as anything to do with switching from sex to another, but insteadas a continuous process that works in a space of spasm, indeterminacyand slipperiness. It is important to note that Cassils creates avisual discourse and critique around gender and physical ideologies,as a result of a progression of vigorously trained bodies fordifferent performance purposes that represent her with sweat, sinewand blood.

Importanceof media/art representation of oppressed/discriminated culture

Mediaand art construct meaning about ethnicity and race, and plays asignificant role in bettering the way people comprehend ethnicity andrace as part of their identity, social institutions, history andtheir everyday lives. The media or art representation of the culturehelps to understand that race and ethnicity are just but ideologiesor the way of understanding our environment better. The excluded andmarginalized cultures have high possibility of becoming ontologicallysegregated from humanity and consequently, becoming oppressed andexploited. Therefore, media and art representation play crucial roleof revoking unequal social relations and play a crucial role ofenlightening the society about the necessity of respecting human kindregardless of race and ethnic group (Holt&amp Perren, 2011).However, the way media represent certain cultures it may lead tooppression and discrimination. For example, Asians are represented asaliens who are helpless heathens, loyal allies, and comical servants.


Holt,J., &amp Perren, A. (2011).&nbspMediaIndustries: History, Theory, and Method.Hoboken: John Wiley &amp Sons.

InDahlberg, L. (2012).&nbspVisualizinglaw and authority: Essays on legal aesthetics.P. 152

King,C. R. (2010).&nbspTheNative American mascot controversy: A handbook.Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press.

Stallings,T. (2003).&nbspWhiteness,a wayward construction.Laguna Beach, Calif: Laguna Art Museum.p. 59