Culture makes the nation. The arts are part of a single symbolic expressive logic that is in the closest possible connection with the identity of a nation…. The critical, self-critical consciousness of the artist who deserves the name contributes to the giving shape to identity. It is capable of opposing the challenge of foreign and universal models of rhetoric, so characteristic of our age in which reciprocal communications are constantly on the rise. It creatively alters these models or, in contact with them, creates new views of tradition, thus enriching them.-  Iwan Bala

Cultural Identity Presentation from Helen Jones

Identity is in part defined as the condition of being oneself, and not another. But for an individual positioned marginally in a culture, for an individual defined as “other,” identity is often fragmented or fractured. The very notion of “other” defies or contradicts the idea of identity. In addressing the idea of identity development and the fragmented self, we explore the multiple responses of an artist to the question, “who am I?”

Seminar with Helen Ann Jones

Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party elevates female achievement in Western history to a heroic scale traditionally reserved for men. The Dinner Party is a massive ceremonial banquet in art, laid on a triangular table measuring 48 feet on each side. Combining the glory of sacramental tradition with the intimate detail of a carefully orchestrated social gathering, the artist represents 39 “guests of honor” by individually symbolic, larger-than-life-size china-painted porcelain plates rising from intricate textiles draped completely over the tabletops. Each plate features an image based on the butterfly, symbolic of a vaginal central core. The runners name the 39 women and contain images drawn from each one’s story, executed in the needlework of the time in which each woman lived.

  • A milestone, multi-media installation created by Judy Chicago and hundreds of volunteers between 1974 and 1979.
  • A symbolic history of women in Western civilization which has toured around the world to fifteen sites, six countries and a viewing audience of over one million people.
  • In March 2007 this icon of twentieth-century art was permanently housed in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is a contemporary master of socially critical photography. She is a key figure of the “Pictures Generation,” a loose circle of American artists who came to artistic maturity and critical recognition during the early 1980s, a period notable for the rapid and widespread proliferation of mass media imagery. At first painting in a super-realist style in art school during the aftermath of American Feminism, Sherman turned to photography toward the end of the 1970s in order to explore a wide range of common female social roles, or personas.

Barbara Kruger

barbara-krugerKruger’s earliest artworks date to 1969. Large woven wall hangings of yarn, beads, sequins, feathers, and ribbons, they exemplify the feminist recuperation of craft during this period. Despite her inclusion in the Whitney Biennial in 1973 and solo exhibitions at Artists Space and Fischbach Gallery, both in New York, the following two years, she was dissatisfied with her output and its detachment from her growing social and political concerns. In the fall of 1976, Kruger abandoned art making and moved to Berkeley, California, where she taught at the University of California for four years and steeped herself in the writings of Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes.

Ivor John Davis

Summer: The Childhood of Pryderi (1994)

He studied at the Cardiff and Swansea Colleges of Art between 1952 and 1957, and later at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He also completed a PhD on the subject of the Russian avant-garde.

Davies taught art history at the University of Wales and at the University of Edinburgh. He became the head of cultural studies at Gwent College of Higher Education in 1978 where he remained until his retirement from teaching in 1988.

Much of Davies’ work is stimulated by Welsh culture and politics.

In the 1960s he made works of art by using explosives, reflecting his idea of the element of destruction in the world and in society. He was also involved with the Destruction in Art Symposium in London in 1966.

 Tim Davis


Poustinia Land Art Park in the Belizean jungle; a video document; photographs and an artist’s publication.

The project involved the installation of a reclaimed 150 year-old mahogany parquet floor from Central America, found in a reclamation yard in the Fforestfach (the Welsh name for ‘little forest’) area of Swansea, in the Belizean rainforest.

It was important that the wood was shipped back to Belize, the method by which it arrived in the UK.

The laying of the floor in a corridor in the jungle, its subsequent rotting through

In parenthesis, Estonia (1994)

In parenthesis, Estonia (1994)

climatic conditions and destruction by termites, are inherent aspects of the piece, as are the documentary and written works.

Since making the original site-specific intervention, the project continues to develop through environmental impact on the installation itself, video and photographic documentation of these changes, and an artist’s publication.

Gerhard Richter

downloadRichter borrows much of his painted imagery from newspapers, or even his own family albums. Often he begins by mechanically projecting such an image onto the canvas, a technique for thinking about how images often seem to have a life of their own, like mysterious ghosts haunting our psyche. This act of visual compression, in which photography, projection, and painting merge to make a finished art work, suggests that all vision is a kind of conversion of the “real” into the “imaginary.”

Gerhard Richter was one of the first German artists to reflect on the history of National Socialism, creating paintings of family members who had joined, or had been victims of, the Nazi Party. In the late 1980s, looking back to the history of radical political activity in West Germany in the 1970s, he produced the fifteen-part work October 18, 1977 1988, a sequence of black-and-white paintings based on images of the Baader-Meinhof group. Richter has continued to respond to significant moments in history throughout his career. One room of the Tate Modern exhibition this autumn will include September 2005, a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.

Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1) (1988)

Artwork description & Analysis: For most of his career, Richter avoided political motifs in his work. A notable exception is the series October 18, 1977, in which he depicts radical Baader-Meinhof terrorists who inexplicably died in jail (it remains unclear to this day whether these young radicals committed suicide or were murdered by the police). In Erschossener 1 (Man Shot Down 1), Richter has used a photographic reference to create a blurred, monochromatic painting of a dead inmate. The morbid scene might be said to exemplify the vanity behind the terrorists’ actions; at the same time, the persistent obscurity of the image replicates the eternal mystery behind the inmates’ deaths, as well as the impossibility of securely capturing truth in any one canvas.

Oil on canvas – The Museum of Modern Art

48 portraits 1971-1998

Robert Maplethorpe

While images of the body are associated with ideals of beauty, the portrait is often associated with the identity and individuality. The self portrait is perhaps the most complex aspect of the genre because it brings the artist and the sitter into one with the allure of a private diary. Historically the self portrait is linked to artistic identity, experimentation with techniques and autobiography. Mapplethorpe’s self portraits contain all of these elements: his early polaroids are his first experiments with the self portrait and his exploration of photography; his works from the late-1970s to the mid-1980s survey different personas and ideas of identity, while his late self portraits are more autobiographical and concerned with questions of existence.

Smutty 1980,

Bruce Nauman

A principal convention of modern culture says that true art asserts individual identity, which is hidden behind a surface facade that is, in fact, a mere illusion. So, the artist’s job is to go beyond outward appearance to reveal that hidden self.

Setting a good corner, 1990

Two concurrent museum exhibitions not only make for an extraordinarily strong summer season in Los Angeles, they also demonstrate how this established convention has been broadly rejected in the work of two of the most highly regarded artists working today. For them, the idea of artistic identity isn’t what it used to be.

Aidan (saatchi)

(born Moscow, Russia, 1964). Daughter of the famous Azerbaijani artist and Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Art, Tahir Salahov.20141030012432_ac120127_3

Studied at the Surikov State Art Institute, Moscow. Owner of the first contemporary art gallery to open in Moscow at the beginning of the 1990s.

Member of the Russian Academy of Arts since 2007. Lives and works in Moscow.

Mark Leckey

Mark Leckey (b. 1964, Birkenhead, UK) lives in London, UK. Leckey uses a variety of media – including film, sculpture, sound and performance. He has an ongoing fascination with the affective power of images, music and technology, and often uses reconfigured archival footage in his work.

Mark Leckey has assembled a film using archival material from television shows, advertisements and music, to create a record of all the significant events of his life from the 1970s until the 1990s. For Liverpool Biennial 2016, Dream English Kid is presented in an environment that contains new sculptural works connected to material in the film. It is shown at the Blade Factory.

Who Am I?

Daughter, Mother, Wife, Sister, Friend, Healer, Teacher, Writer, Artist, Creative, Imaginative, Quirky, Scottish, Spiritual…

We are calling the Grandmothers,
Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, Daughters
The wild womenwhoami
The crones
The seers and midwives
The mountain and desert women
The soul summoners
The water carriers
The tenders and feelers of Earth
The ocean women who are rising the tide
The fire women who are ready to roar
The girls who already breathe consciously with the trees
and the Elders who choose to sing the song that ends the desecration of our world –
We are calling you to to rise together now –
You are invited – to unite and awaken
to who and what you really are,
on behalf of the forests, on behalf of the trees,
on behalf of Life.

~ Clare Dubois


What do we mean when we speak of identity?

Identity is either described as who am I or what am I, or it is described as sameness, or an affinity to someone or something, for example identifying with a particular group of people through similar interests.

How does cultural identify contribute to the formation of personal/private identity and vice versa?

Being able to identify with others culturally helps us to feel a sense of belonging or community, which then helps us to define our own identity as a person.

How might this be reflected in an artist’s work in the postmodern era?

In postmodernisism, artists strived to challenge cultural identity, going against authority and seeking to re-establish a perosnal identity as an individual.

Other Culture and Identity Artists:

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