The Electric dress is made up of bulbs and electric wires of different shapes and colors and looks like a post-modern interpretation of a Christmas tree—particularly when it is not worn. Tanaka by reinterpreting the kimono was actually pointing towards the change that had occurred in the traditional Japanese society in the post-war period. The bright lights of the dress symbolize the modern world. The “Electric Dress” which the artist wore and performed in anticipated feminist questions which were later focused on by other artists in the seventies. In addition, this was one of the first times when the body was used in an artistic and risky situation.
The Electric Dress changes the association of materials to an individual’s body and action. The danger of wearing the piece and the unnatural look of the lights are an observation about the modern women’s fashion. Light appears to a symbol of the technology and its dehumanizing effect on life and individuals and the superficiality and meaninglessness of fashions. The symbolism of the Dress is a deviance from the Gutai movement as its members preferred to use direct materials rather than allusions or symbols. However some argue that Tanaka’s Electric Dress is not at all symbolic, rather the shock value of her attired in the dangerous outfit is the real intention. However one cannot deny the feminist significance of the piece as it shows through the ridiculousness of electrical light. (Munroe, 1994, 85)
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