A head for bread
Charlotte Cotton's first chapter also illustrates the role of photography in creating alternate realities as art. An advantage of photography is it's easy of use to capture three dimensional scenes.
'Bread Man' is the performance character of Tatsumi Orimoto. The Japanese artist hides his face under loaves of bread and then undertakes everyday activities.
It is not just the bizarre nature of his persona that is of interest, but also his interaction with passers by who permit him to be photographed with them. This would appear to be a very pointless art form, however further empathy for Orimoto is given when you understand that he cares for his sick mother, and that 'Orimoto has...used his bread guise for double portraits of himself and his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, a visual merging of her changed mental reality with his performance of physical difference' (Cotton, C. 2011, p. 27).
At 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, volunteers assisted Orimoto by standing expressionless in an oil drum for 30 seconds. The meaning of the artwork was unclear. For some it represented alienation or the influence of he oil industry. For others the act of gathering strangers together to perform in this way was the reason.
What is the photograph? Is it the documenting of a live art tableau, or is the photograph the purpose of this activity? The fact that Orimoto's work asks more questions than it offers answers, is responsible for his popularity.
Cotton, C. (2011). The photograph as contemporary art. London: Thames and Hudson.