Masquerade as a subversive gesture has a long history in art and wider culture; during the late 1960s and 1970s it emerged as a widespread artistic strategy. This room reflects this explosion, showing how artists during the glam era used personal transformation to re-read and assert their own identities as well as to critique contemporary culture.
Since the 1970s, Cindy Sherman has engaged in a sustained transformation of her own image in order to address contemporary identity construction. Drawing from popular culture and mass media imagery, she has created a panoply of characters and settings that question the nature of representation. David Lamelas has similarly used appropriation to examine notions of constructed identity; his work Rock Star (Character Appropriation) 1974 explores the rock star fantasy.
The artist collective ASCO emerged out of the politicised Chicano culture of Los Angeles. Concerned with the ‘glitter and gangrene of urban reality’, their conceptual performances were a cross-pollination of cultural forms and genres. For their No Movies series, the ensemble, dressed in extravagant glam rock attire, posed for mock film stills for a non-existent horror movie, circulating the stills to film outlets as authentic. The work confirms their identity as Chicanos while simultaneously highlighting their alienation from mainstream culture.