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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

La Geisha Italiana イタリアの芸者

The theme for the Venice Carnevale in 2024 is "Ad Oriente, The amazing journey of Marco Polo”.

The 2024 Venice Carnival celebrates the world's most famous traveller. On the 700th anniversary of his death on 8 January 1324, Marco Polo returns to the lagoon as the main protagonist of the traditional festivities in Venice. The theme of travel is about discovery and coming face to face with the Far East, places that were only previously imagined...

Hence, we find a lot of costumers coming in costumes with a Chinoiserie theme.

My Italian friend Barbara says she's been fascinated by geishas for a long time, but has never seen a real one, so she decided to make a costume of a geisha.

Experts will find her version to be quite different from the real geishas but this one does have its own aesthetic appeals. Her dance moves and poses are really graceful. I photographed Barbara using natural lighting alone. I am actually quite pleased with the results.

We have to remember this is Chinoiserie. Chinoiserie is the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and other East Asian artistic traditions, especially in the decorative arts, garden design, architecture, literature, theatre, and music. The aesthetic of chinoiserie has been expressed in different ways depending on the region. Chinoiserie entered European art and decoration in the mid-to-late 17th century; the work of Athanasius Kircher influenced the study of Orientalism. The popularity of chinoiserie peaked around the middle of the 18th century when it was associated with the Rococo style and with works by François Boucher, Thomas Chippendale, and Jean-Baptist Pillement. It was also popularized by the influx of Chinese and Indian goods brought annually to Europe aboard English, Dutch, French, and Swedish East India Companies. There was a revival of popularity for chinoiserie in Europe and the United States from the mid-19th century through the 1920s, and today in elite interior design and fashion.

There were many reasons why chinoiserie gained such popularity in Europe in the 18th century. Europeans had a fascination with Asia due to their increased, but still restricted, access to new cultures through expanded trade with East Asia, especially China. The 'China' indicated in the term 'chinoiserie' represented in European people's mind a wider region of the globe that could embrace China itself, but also Japan, Korea, South-East Asia, India or even Persia. In art, the style of "the Orient" was considered a source of inspiration; the atmosphere rich in images and the harmonic designs of the oriental style reflected the picture of an ideal world, from which to draw ideas in order to reshape one's own culture. For this reason the style of chinoiserie is to be regarded as an important result of the exchange between the West and the East.

I kept the same style of photography for this series of photos so they will blend in nicely with the rest. They should do well in exhbitions and my upcoming new coffee table book...

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