Rabbits, Hats and Male Identity: An Artist’s Ruminations on Anthropomorphized Bunnies and Self-Portraiture
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The paper examines the author's recent self-portraits (produced between 2000-2008) in relation to the rabbit as his muse, his emigration to Australia in 2000, and a life-long desire to find the mythical place called 'home'. The self-portraits challenge the masculine identities projected over time onto the nature of the rabbit, through its use in making hats, such as the iconic Akubra brand, and the rabbit's denigration in Australia as a European pest. The paper argues that these artistic representations of 'rabbit hats' offer an unseen psychic rift in their relationship to the Australian male 'battler' and traditional notions of masculinity associated with the tough hardwearing hat and their owners. The paper evidences that in many other cultures the mythological status of the rabbit (and the hare) is seen as feminine, and inclined to self-sacrifice. The self-portraits reflect these attributes, as the ubiquitous Australian hat becomes playfully and perversely 'feminised' through the anthropomorphic development of breasts that protrude through the hat's crown, as well as sporting pendulous ears that often loll over the hat's brim. Furthermore, the paper recognises that while the self-portraits seek to reframe the Australian hat, and thereby challenge its cultural position, they also allude to the self-sacrificial nature of the rabbit muse and suggest that self-sacrifice is a consequence of embracing the inherent meanings attributable to the artworks and the tasks of rabbits and men in Australia today.
AAANZ: The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference
Copyright 2008 Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAAZN). The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.