Elena Dorfman | Fandomania | 17 January – 23 February 2008

Documenting the extraordinary world of “cosplay” in which participants dress in costume as characters from video games, animated films, and Japanese graphic novels, “Fandomania” reveals each subject’s experimentation with role-play. The convention center provides a sanctuary for participants’ homemade constructions of identity, in which the personality of the subject is united with elements of the anime world. Employing aspects of the visually fantastic, Dorfman’s photographs conjure an imagined reality occupied by cross-dressing samurai warriors, mad hatters, and psychedelic princesses. Additionally, an animated film entitled “Costume Play”, with music by J.J. Abrams, will be screened during the show.

Emerging in the wake of Dorfman’s last series, “Still Lovers” a project about hyper realistic sex dolls and their owners, “Fandomania” presents an opportunity for the artist to revisit themes of role-play and the increasingly blurred lines between fiction and reality, taking a step further from documentary photography. Dorfman’s work presents a modern mythology informed by a collective familiarity with Japanese print media and culture.

In a recent interview with the Aperture Foundation, Dorfman describes the “theater of cosplay” as possessing “no boundaries” a place both “unpredictable, and open ended.” The absence of rules or societal limitations, grants each participant the freedom to be auteur of their constructed reality. The convention center transforms into a safe zone separate and apart from mundane reality. The sense of collective acknowledgement is central to the cosplay experience. Creating a private theater within the convention center, Dorfman’s temporary studio provided an additional landscape for cosplayers to perform their dramatic acts of self-representation.

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