Author Archives: csgallag

Contrast in Color Reflecting the Conflict in the Narrative

Courtney Gallagher

Hero: Red Leaves Scene

Fashion & Gender in China: Professor Tsui


In this film sequence, the conflicting colors of the setting, gold and red, mirror the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon over Broken Sword’s love. When the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon is resolved by the death of Moon, so does the conflict in the colors of the setting, as the setting changes to only red. The colors of the setting in this film excerpt, therefore, work to highlight the tension and subsequent resolution in the narrative.


Conflict in Setting Color (Gold/Red), Conflict Between Flying Snow & Moon

The color contrasts that consume the beginning of this film sequence reveal the conflict between Flying Snow and Moon. Flying Snow and Moon’s red dress creates a contrast between the gold leaves in the setting around them. The gold of the setting brings to light, and highlights the betrayal, jealousy, and anger felt by both of these women [shown by their red dresses], as they compete for Broken Sword’s love. Although there seems to be a visual similarity between these two women, as both wear red dresses, their dresses present very different meanings. Flying Snow’s dress is a rich, brilliant red, flowing smoothly in the wind. On the other hand, Moon’s dress is flimsy, faded red. The contrast between their red dresses is representative of Flying Snow’s high social status and Moon’s lower status of servitude. It also shows the contrast between their anger. While Flying Snow’s anger arises from a sense of betrayal, Moon’s arises from a feeling of jealousy. The contrasting nature of the two women is further presented when Flying Snow and Moon are fighting one another [using kung-fu]. Snow fights Moon with ease and grace, while Moon struggles clumsily. During the fight, the golden leaves are blowing in the wind, seemingly attacking Moon for most of the sequence, fighting against and attempting to resolve the existing contrasts and conflicts.


Resolution of Setting Color (Red), Resolution of Conflict


The contrast in the color dissolves with the death of Moon. As Moon’s [red] blood drips onto the leafy ground, it morphs everything to red. The red that it turns is brilliant and rich—just like Flying Snow’s dress—exhibiting her valor. Moon’s death, which was signified by the drop of blood from the sword, signified the “death of the conflict.” Both the resolution of the conflict, and resolution of the color, takes place with the death of Moon. The once violent, golden leaves now seem at ease, simply falling from the trees and flowing with the wind. The death of the conflict transformed this red into a sign of victory and love for which Flying Snow successfully fought. In this way, the scenery is a reflection of Flying Snow’s victory, and the death of a great betrayal.


In short, Flying Snow and Moon’s fight for love was resolved by Moon’s death, which was reinforced by the scenery’s colors. The original contrast of the red and gold colors of the scenery was resolved at the moment of Moon’s death. In the end, Moon’s jealousy, borne of unrequited love, was overcome by Flying Snow’s true love for Broken Sword.

“death of the conflict” is a brilliant idea

Sports Illustrated: The Commodification of Gender & Culture

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Courtney Gallagher

ASNS 2076: Fashion and Gender in China

Prof Shu-chin Tsui



In this Sports Illustrated advertisement, a stark contrast is drawn between the Western female figure and the Chinese male figure, for the purpose of selling the Western lifestyle (sound statement). The exploitation of these two figures is meant to target the desires of Western males, the dominant reader base of Sports Illustrated. The “swimsuit spread” [started in 1970] and is featured on an annual basis. The original intent of the spread was to fill space in the magazine during a time of less sporting activity, as well as heighten sales during a time of slower sale [less sports events], by showing scantily clad women in exotic locations. Since the first edition, this issue of the magazine has become the most popular.


Western Woman v. Chinese Male: Both the gender and ethnic background of the figures featured in this advertisement are being exploited to sell the Western lifestyle. Sports Illustrated exhibits the Western female in her “natural state”—as a temptress, in the wild and ripe for exploitation. The Western woman appears as if she is an exotic place [China], sitting effortlessly — seemingly waiting for someone [waiting to be sold or consumed by the male viewer.] On the other hand, the Chinese male appears as if he is going about his normal work duties. The Chinese male is being used as an ethnic prop used to highlight the exotic location presented. In this way, his life and culture is being exploited and commercialized as a means of selling the Western “way of life.” As a representation of the “ideal, Western lifestyle,” this advertisement highlights Western male fetishism with the foreign, exotic, and authentic Chinese [shown through the Chinese male], as well as their obsession with sexuality and eroticism [shown through the Western woman.] In order to achieve this image, Sports Illustrated exploits both figures.

the significance of the contrast and difference

Naked Body v. Working Body: The naked body of the female is also contrasted with the working body of the male in this advertisement—both as a form of exploitation. The white woman lays on the raft, revealing her body in submission to the male viewer. Her gaze is straight on—suggesting an invitation to act upon desires and sexual fantasies of the male reader. On the other hand, the fisherman is standing and working, fully clothed in his work attire. His gaze is downward in order to avoid the gaze of the viewer, where he serves as a prop to emphasize the “exotic” location. In this way, he is used as a way to further eroticize the already sexualized, naked body where the male viewer sees himself acting upon desire in an exotic location.

stay with the statement of “western life style?”

Location: The hyper-sexualized, submissive Western woman and the traditional Chinese fisherman are both contrasted with the landscape—all of which is commoditized for the reader’s pleasure. The unnatural and demeaning way in which both the male and female is depicted in this picture is contrasted with the natural beauty of the landscape. However, the landscape is blurry allowing the reader to focus more directly to the exploitation of the foreground. The landscape is just another prop to further the erotic and exotic nature of the exploitative picture, which serves to fulfill Western males desire of eroticism and exoticism. The natural and pure beauty of the background is corrupted through its objectification and commodification.

 the significance or the selling point of Chinese landscape?

Both the Western, sexualized woman and Chinese male are dehumanized and objectified in order to arouse the desires of Western males. Through these pages, the Western males can live out their sexual fantasies, while “Orientalizing” Chinese culture. Offensively, it objectifies the Western woman by selling her sexuality, selling her body. The magazine is also selling a skewed, Orientalist vision of Chinese culture—where the inferiority of the impoverished Chinese male serves simply as a prop in the issuers manufactured sexual fantasy. The exploitation of the Western, sexualized woman and Chinese, Orientalized male highlight that the age-old issue of race, culture, and gender is still very much alive in Western society.

nice post




Legacy Mantles (set of Five): A Critique of Modern China


Sui Jianguo – “Legacy Mantle (set of five)” (2006)

Courtney Gallagher

ASNS 2076: Fashion & Gender in China

Lot: 940
Fibreglass with automotive paint
Size: Each: 63.5cm x 48.2cm x 30.4cm (25 x 19 x 12″)

Sui Jianguo’s sculpture, Legacy Mantle, exhibits the socio-economic transformation from Mao’s China (socialist China) to commercial China (post-socialist China).




Jianguo’s sculptures of the Mao suit are exhibited body-less alluding to a Maoist past in which individual identity was rejected. The body becomes submissive, if not irrelevant, to the Mao suit that seems to be self-supporting. Through this presentation, the individual is seen to submit to the collective, which is represented by the Mao suit. The absence of the body highlights the absence of the identity and individuality in Maoist China, where the individual body only existed as a small part of the larger collective body. The absence of the body in Jianguo’s sculpture not only shows the loss of individuality, but also a submission to the collective. The Mao suits appear in a group of five and self-supporting in order to emphasize how the individual only exists as part of the collective [collective body and collective identity]. Through this piece, the artist criticizes the Maoist period where the absence of the physical body shows the absence of the individual person. The submission that is suggested by the absent body can be seen as a type of “rape” of the individual by the corrupt and unjust CCP.



The different colors of each of the five Mao suits, contrast with the absence of individuality. The vibrant colors displayed by Jianguo’s Mao suits are a representation of modern contemporary consumerist China. The bright colors give each suit its own uniqueness and individuality. In the Maoist era, the Mao suit generally appeared in all neutral and bland colors, portraying each body as part of the larger collective in the eyes of socialist China. The neutral colors were a representation of collectivity and similarity in that no body had an individual identity. The body was supposed to appear genderless, shapeless, and sexless (masculinized). In the Chinese socialist era, fashion was a form of political oppression—and this was most notably observed through the Mao suit. Politically, the socialist government, through the Mao suit, promoted a specific social behavior that fused the symbolism of Maoist thought and utility.  move these comments to the paragraph on body The artist purposefully uses bright colors in order to emphasize the individuality of each of the Mao suits—juxtaposing the collectivity invoked by the absence of bodies. Jianguo uses these colors to represent individuality and prosperity that describes commercial China, or post-socialist China. address how the artist, in terms adding color or coloring the mao suite, rewrite social-political history as china undergoes transition from mao to post mao


The sculpture contrasts two seemingly opposing ideas–the absence of the body and the presence of the vibrant-colored suit—in order to highlight the great changes that have occurred since the transition from socialist China to post-socialist China. He characterizes socialist China as a time where there was no individual, no identity other than that of the collective. Now, however, in post-socialist China, citizens are starting to determine their own identities—and through this they are becoming separate identities (represented by each color being different). Jianguo suggests in this sculpture that although there is a movement to the future, the Chinese people who lived through the Maoist period will not forget what it was like. Although there is a vibrant individual culture growing in China, in a past not so long ago this was not possible for the Chinese people. Through this, the artist celebrates the transformation of China from socialism to post-socialism.

nice post



The Consumption of Female Sexuality

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Liu Jianhua: Color Ceramic Series-Obsessive Memories

Ceramic Sculpture 2000, 40 x 31 x 30 cm, LJH25

Courtney Gallagher

In the contemporary installation art piece, Obsessive Memories, Liu Jianhua uses female sexuality to draw a comparison between the consumption of women and the consumption of material goods.

 sound thesis

The Body: The artist reveals the materialization of the female body by eroticizing it, thus making it an image of male desire. The body is positioned in a way that is very revealing—where one’s eyes instantly are drawn to the bare legs. Not only the bare legs, but also the positioning of the legs, present an alluring image to the viewer. The image seeks to arouse male, or the consumer’s, desire and sexual fantasy. The body appears with neither head nor arms to accentuate the projected submission of the female to the male viewers, or the consumer’s, sexual desires. In this way, Jianhua makes the female body a commodity by using female sexuality as an image of desire for the viewer. Not only this, but the artist makes the commodity of the female body seem easily attainable because the passivity the female body suggests through not having arms nor legs. Thus, the female body visually implies instant submission or gratification–where the male or consumer desire could be easily satisfied through attainment of the commodity.


Cheong-sam: The cheong-sam shapes the female body, sexualizing it further, thus furthering its desire of consumption by male viewers [or consumers]. The cheong-sam appears tight-fitting, short, and embellished with intricate patterns and beautiful colors. The cheong-sam looks as if it is riding up because of the body’s position on the couch, making it more revealing than it already would have been. The traditional cheong-sam was a symbol of concealment and femininity. The modern, revealing cheong-sam depicted in this image, however, conflicts with the garment’s traditional symbolic value by making it an object of erotic, sexual fantasy. In this way, Jianhua uses the cheong-sam to highlight both the issue of sexualizing females as a means of consumption, as well as a means to accentuate the female’s eroticism.


The Sofa: Lastly, the consumption of the sexualized female body is once again hinted at with the female body presented on a sofa. The sofa appears to be a Western commodity because it exhibits neither traditional Chinese cloth (silk) nor intricate embellishments. As a piece of furniture, the sofa represents a place of leisure and relaxation—an object that males yearn for at the end of a hard workday. Thus, Jianhua makes an image of desire to consume both the sofa and the sexualized female body, thus materializing the female body.


In sum, Jianhua’s installation piece uses female sexuality to arouse desire in men, and make the female body an object of consumption—much like a sofa. The inviting image creates a “rape” of the female body. It consumes the female in a state in which it has control neither of their mind nor body [shown by the woman being armless and headless.] Through this imagery, Jianhua draws a disturbing comparison between the rape of this woman and the metaphorical rape of China by capitalism—where the introduction of desire for material objects, through capitalism, has assaulted and degraded the moral and ethical values of the country.

analysis is persuasive and organization is clear. sentence structure could be concise

Footbinding: Perceptions of Femininity

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.39 PMPhoto: From Peabody & Essex Museum in Salem, MA [from presentation]

Courtney Gallagher

ASNS 2076: Fashion and Gender in China

Prof Shu-chin Tsui


In this photograph, the photographer presents four young, ordinary women performing needle work, with bound feet visible beneath the work bench. During the Song Dynasty in China, women with bound feet were part of a socially and culturally defined gender norm. The bound foot was a sign of femininity, sexuality, attractiveness, civility, and higher social status. The women in this picture do not exhibit any of the socially and culturally defined gender norms, yet interestingly their feet are bound.

make an argument or raise a thesis seeking question immediately.

From a strictly visual point of view, the women shown in the photograph are clearly of the working, or lower, class. They have their hair pulled up, wearing clothes of basic material, without embellishment. These women are in a group, appearing in exactly the same attire, doing the exact same work, and apparently lack any type of individuality. Yet, despite this lower working class appearance, their feet are bound, which is emblematic of non-working, courtesan women. The typical courtesan would dress in the finest silk, wear embroidered attire, and have very small, beautiful shoes. Small, embroidered shoes and tiny feet created an aesthetic of subdued feminine elegance. The photographed women are not wearing any of the typical attire associated with the courtesan. Their shoes are plain and black, and their clothing is made of, what seems to be, a inexpensive material.   Other than the bound feet, all other indications suggest strongly that these women are of the lower working class.

this paragraph could be taken away or incorporate with the first

It becomes clear that these women bound their feet because it has cultural significance; in particular, relating to defined a gender norm. Smaller feet meant that the women were more civil, more attractive, more delicate and fragile—which defined feminine beauty. This “ideal image” of beauty [the ideal size of the foot] was a direct sign of the “ideal status.” Smaller the feet also meant a woman was more likely to marry into a higher status. Thus, the women in this photograph show the ideal impulse of women to overcome their bodies in an attempt to overcome status. It is a mother’s hope, especially when their child is of a lower class, that their bound feet would help them marry someone of a higher class. Although footbinding was originally exclusive to the upper class, it trickled down to the lower classes because of its correlation with high social status. However, it was especially difficult for working women to endure footbinding because it made their jobs more difficult, as the foot restriction inhibited their ability to perform manual labor. The fact that lower-class Chinese women would bind their feet, despite the difficulty it might cause while doing manual labor, shows the amount of socio-cultural significance placed on having a bound foot.

Although this photograph, at first glance, speaks to these women’s ordinary, working class social status, they have bound feet because of its ability to shape how others saw them. The bound foot was a way to show a women’s femininity by a very obvious physical indicator. Dorothy Ko makes the claim in her article, “The Body as Attire,” that the bound foot was a “mark of womanhood . . . it was the most natural enactment of a woman’s gendered identity.”[1] Thus, this picture confirms Ko’s thesis that the perception of the body in China during this time was not seen as an isolated entity—it was seen as the “social body”—linking, cosmologically, “…human growth and development with creative processes…”[2] Viewing the physical body as the “social body,” especially the bodily appearance [clothing, shoes, foot size] was directly linked to society’s social, moral, and ethnic norms. This is why these lower-class women in the photograph are trying, through footbinding, to change others perception of them and comport themselves with the social, moral, and ethnic norms of the time.

paragraph organization with the structure of denotation-connotation?: ordinary women but bound feet; group photo and same dress ….

[1] Dorothy Ko. “The Body as Attire: the Shifting Meaning of Foot binding in Seventeenth-Century China,” Journal of Women’s History 8-4 (Winter 1997): 21.

[2] Ko 18.