PRINT January 1994


MOTHER (JUDITH II), 1991, is the second in a series of images by Yasumasa Morimura based on the biblical story of Judith and Holofernes. In the first, Mother (Judith I), the figures are portrayed à la Cranach; Morimura appears as both Judith and her decapitated victim. In Mother (Judith II), the Cranach-based image is revisualized across the style of Arcimboldo, with all the portrait elements replaced by inanimate objects: Holofernes turns into a still life with potato head, his neck a slab of beefsteak, while Judith develops a mask of symmetrical pale-green cabbage leaves. It’s a brilliantly executed performance, as eerie as it is hilarious.

Rather than write about an artwork that has settled in my mind over years, I have chosen a piece that is still turning over, a work to which I am still adjusting. And part of what disturbs me in the image probably has to do with the circumstances of

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