Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Art and Design
Dr. Susan Richmond
Dr. Maria Gindhart
Dr. John Decker
Miwa Yanagi’s Elevator Girls series, a collection of glossy photographs featuring groups of similarly clad women lingering in expansive, empty arcades, made its international debut in 1996. While the pieces garnered positive reactions, Yanagi found that most Western viewers read her work as predominantly “Oriental”—confirming stereotypes of a highly polished techno-topic Japan that was still negotiating gender equality.
In this thesis, I explore alternative ways of reading Yanagi’s Elevator Girls series, which, I argue, call attention to myopic views of commercialism and identity in order to provide an alternative reading of these women as agents of transgression and ideological transcendence. Whereas many viewed Yanagi’s works as a comment on capitalist machinations, where consumerism has produced soulless, vapid feminine identities, I focus on the ways in which these women exercise agency without relying on notions of an individualized, unique ego.
Chamberlain, Rachel P., "Articulations of Liberation and Agency in Yanagi Miwa's "Elevator Girls"" (2012). Art and Design Theses. Paper 102.