This thesis is an examination of contemporary artist Mariko Mori's use of fashion in her work from 1993 to 2001. Contained within her sartorial phrasing is an involved relationship with the body, female and Japanese, as it exists within technological modernity. Tumult characterizes Mori's body as she images it early on in her career. This highly alienating space in which she positions herself gradually transitions to a space of respite for the performative body of another actor by 2001's Wave UFO. Wave UFO creates a mediated space for healing the modern body plagued with isolation through transcendence provided by technological means. Minimalist fashion, as a kind of plastic mechanization of corporeal experience, helps to accomplish this healing. Mori's Wave UFO attendant costumes present minimalist fashion as a location for reconciling spiritual identity in a postmodern age. The flat-panel costumes have the effect of disfiguring the bodies of the attendants into amorphous plasticized shells (much like the backdrop of the Wave UFO) and mechanizing the movements of the wearer. The sleek technological sensibility of the costumes, in conjunction with the stark sterility of the immersive Wave UFO interior, are the culminating expression of the ambivalent liminality Mori's body takes from 1993-1999. This is a body that floats between absence and presence, self and other. This thesis begins with a survey of Mori's 1990s work, including her 1994 self-portrait series that launched the artist into international recognition. The 1993-94 self-portraits present a playful mimicry and a self-aware exploration of regional dress as it is found on the streets of Tokyo. By the end of the decade the play shifts to minimalist self-denial that achieves a transcendence of the imaged body once grounded in the urban self-portraits. After exploring necessary and appropriate contexts of Japanese fashion and other cultural contexts, the thesis culminates in an extended analysis of Mori's 2001 Wave UFO installation. Mori's suggestion that technology can achieve transcendence of the body furthers the theorization that minimalist fashion overcomes the physical and ideological boundaries of human existence in a modern world.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





Mariko Mori, Wave UFO, A Détacher, Public Art Fund, Japanese women in art, minimalism in fashion, fashion in performance art, spirituality and postmodernism



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Art Practice Commons