Happily ever after? Visions of a fairy tale dystopia in the contemporary visual arts

Bonner, Sarah (2014) Happily ever after? Visions of a fairy tale dystopia in the contemporary visual arts. In: Memories of the future, 2-3 May 2014, Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) & Institute of Modern Languages Research, UK. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Fairy tales have long been held as utopian myths of a golden age; tales of caution, tales of reward, tales that tell of how to be. These tales traditionally deal with extremes of good and evil reciprocally bringing each into sharp focus. The fairy tale as a narrative medium exists universally in a collective consciousness and draws on intimately familiar tropes of which we learn from the nursery. These tales are rooted in imagination and memory. Cinderella, Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood are three of the best known EuroAmerican fairy tales. Distinguished by their popularity from other tales the heroines are etched into memory as a series of codes and signifiers that have persisted since the origins of the fairy tale. However, in recent years there has been a move in the visual arts to revisit these tales and their persecuted heroines. These universal myths are being inverted and subverted to create a dystopian reading of the fairy tale utopia. The relative dystopia offers a freedom and independence for the heroine; she is released from the prejudice and prohibition of tradition and revealed anew. This paper will examine how contemporary visual artists are reworking the utopian codes of gender comportment, racial purity, class structure and morality found in traditional fairy tales to reflect a changed present and project a more equal, if ambiguous, future. The utopia/dystopia dichotomy becomes indistinct and inverted as the future is re-visualised according to contemporary fairy tale visions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Departments: Graphics and Photography
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2019 12:56
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2019 18:35
URI: http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4665

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