Taking Liu Manwen’s self-portraiture series, especially her Ordinary Life and Monologue, as examples, this article argues that the self-subject via self-portraiture comes to terms through social-cultural constitution and visual articulation. With face masked and body wrapped, Liu Manwen’s self-portraiture locates a troubled self against familial relations and social-cultural confinement and searches for self-expression through mirror reflection and spatial articulation. Issues specific to the discussion include spatial anxiety, where the self reconciles familial place and social space; psychological exploration, where the split self negotiates between the symbolic and the semiotic through mirror reflection; and bodily disguise, where the self conceals and reveals troubled identity through a masked face and bandage-wrapped body.
Wrapped Body and Masked Face: Female-Subject Formation in Liu Manwen’s Self-Portraiture
Shuqin Cui is professor of Asian studies and cinema studies at Bowdoin College. She is the author of Women through the Lens: Gender and Nation in a Century of Chinese Cinema (2003) and Gendered Bodies: Toward a Women’s Visual Art in Contemporary China (2015). She has been working on a new manuscript, tentatively titled “China’s Environmental and Ecological Catastrophe through the Lens of Ecocinema.”
Shuqin Cui; Wrapped Body and Masked Face: Female-Subject Formation in Liu Manwen’s Self-Portraiture. positions 1 February 2020; 28 (1): 207–236. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7913119
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