Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Amongst Saints

Photographer: Henrique Gendre, Model Gigi Hadid, for Lita Mortari campaign Fall 2014 source

I love editorials that remind me of those old horror movies, the ones that weren't really scary, the kind no one makes any more. I guess audiences got tired of them. I don't think I can get tired of them. Good thing so many of them were made. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Augustus Egg

The Traveling Companions 1862. source

 Augustus Egg was a man full of good intentions but he was a product of his times; straight laced, prudish times. 'The Traveling Companions' is supposed to be about sex. The flowers represent purity and virginity while the fruit represents sex source. The woman on the left is "exposing" herself sexually, as evidenced by her lack of gloves. Learning the motives behind his works takes the fun out of them. His works beg to be reinterpreted outside the constricting Victorian moral framework, but cannot be divorced from it.

Le Diable Boiteux source

Egg believed his duty as an artist was to send a message, to teach a lesson, to deliver a cautionary tale. Art was a tool to inform people about why it is that they should behave "virtuously". He was sincere in this, and certainly not alone, although he probably felt like he was.

Self Portrait as a Distressed Poet. source

Lady in a Green Dress source

Desdemona source

He also made a few "before and after" scenes to point out the consequences of immorality. He certainly does this in a beautiful way. The Life of Buckingham depicts an aristocrat at a party then alone. 

The most striking contrast is the Duke's expression in the paintings; his barely-visible profile on the bed shows a marked agony of greater veracity than any expression in the other painting, striking in its departure from his thoroughly vacant expression. For all its subjects and detail, the festive painting is full of emptiness; the deathbed is similarly consumed with a dense lack. In precisely balancing the images against one another, Egg sharply criticizes courtly frippery while calling into question which painting truly depicts a living subject. source

Interpreting these is practically a sport, a suitable Victorian entertainment. There is no "art for art's sake" here. The clues are unambiguously laid out, with little room for worldviews contrary to his own. This is very characteristic of those times. Yet just like the mirrors in the image below, his works are mirrors that don't really reflect people only dark old values in gilded frames. 

The Life of Buckingham source

The Life of Buckingham source

Friday, August 1, 2014

Vast and Open

Mary Lee is one of the most inspiring bloggers I know of, with her blog twistedlamb. She has taken time off from blogging to participate in the Mongol Derby. I love these pictures of her for a photo shoot and I really look forward for the edited full version. This also seems like a good time to mention why I like this aesthetic so much. I was born in ancient and beautiful Almaty, Kazakhstan. The landscape is similar to that of Mongolia; vast and open. There are many fierce and fascinating nomadic tribes who live there. My ancestors must have somehow fit into this diverse tapestry of peoples, I often wonder how. I moved to the U.S. when I was four, so I don't know this place as well as I wish I did, but  I dream of it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Minor Adventure

I spent the last few days scouting out locations to build my castle. The view is ,of course, a primary consideration. These flimsy Zara sandals have miraculously held up for all my adventures and still look reasonably intact. Surprisingly, they are comfortable. 

Equestarian Gothic


Photographer: Steven Klein, Model: Edie Campbell source

Sarah Burton designed the clothes. I don't like them as much as I like the story going on here. Also, Demonia has been making boots like that for years, I really hope they don't get ruined by becoming "a thing". On the other hand, maybe Demonia will improve their quality with the threat of competition. I would like that. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Unrealistic Editorial

source: LundLund, Photographer: Aorta, Stylist Kari Hirvonen for SCHÖN magazine

I like a Tinkerbell with bride of Frankenstein hair and shiny thigh-high black boots. This editorial is a lot of fun and it does what it's supposed to do; take you to another place. That is what fashion editorials are supposed to do. 

The reason that's significant is because it is really annoying to hear/read anything about how fashion is depicting "unrealistic" body images, which lead to disorders stemming from body image problems and general unhappiness of women. We are all familiar with this argument. Women see something in a magazine, it's implied that that's the expectation and the woman, fool that she is, sacrifices her high calorie sods, self immolating as she is, so that she can please the world around her. Therefore, STOP depicting unrealistic women or else these idiots will all starve themselves because when it comes to women "monkey see, monkey do". Women cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy because women can't handle logic. Well, you probably haven't heard the argument phrased quite like I put it. 

There is a fair amount of good will on the part of the people who want more realistic women in ads. Their heart is in the right place, I will give them that much, but somehow they didn't think this through. So, we live in a patriarchal society, and women get the short end of the stick in so many ways. Part of the reason I feel this thing really caught on is because it implicitly confirms all the negative stereotypes women have been fighting. The more you examine some of the stuff people say on this topic, the more disturbing it becomes. The underlying premise is that women need to be protected from themselves, a dangerous argument that has been used to control women for a long time and everyone is just falling for it again. 

The controversy surrounding makeup is similar. Natural is best, makeup is bad, makeup is fake, men don't like makeup etc. Ultimately, though the problem is not with makeup but with people (men and women) feeling like the have some kind of a right/duty to boss women around about their appearance. They are no better than the marketers who are claiming that you need makeup to have self esteem, the only difference is that they are claiming the opposite*. The underlying assumption is still there though: "women need to be told what to do" and more specifically, "women need to be told the right thing to do". Everyone has got an opinion about whether women should wear makeup or not. It really isn't any one's business if someone (woman or man) wants to wear makeup. Yet, there is some creepy desire to dictate what women should be doing with their faces that I keep detecting in random places. 

I just wish we could focus on some of the more important things than how the woman above looks "unrealistic". She is next to unrealistically large broken dishes, and wearing an unrealistic bouquet hat. There is a very large teapot next to her too. We should start a campaign for the realistic depiction of teapots! People looking at ads such as these might come away with the expectation that teapots are actually this large and feel insecure, unhappy and generally dissatisfied with their own puny teapots. 

I am not defending the status quo. I would like to see a lot more diversity in ads, myself, but not because it would be "more realistic", but because it would be more creative and interesting and I would simply enjoy seeing it. Complaining that a world of make believe is unrealistic, is idiotic. I don't defend the particular choices editors have made, but it is extremely important that they maintain their "free speech". Yes, I went there. I can go further but I won't (here). Freedom of expression is essential, and the pressure to make "realistic" images only, undermines it. Right now it's pressure, but let's hope that pressure won't turn into laws and regulations. I don't sincerely worry that it might, but laws about how you can and cannot depict women have a distinctly distopic ring. I only worry that thoughts like I'm having are far from the minds of people who want to regulate all our problems away. (Yes, I know some counties have taken various measures but I don't really want to get into that).

There is more good news than bad news. According to for 2007 (love how they keep these things updated) 60 percent of women are overweight and a third of those are obese according to their BMI (I know, not the best indicator but it's the one they use). On the surface, this is not so good. On a deeper level though, this is ironically, fantastic. It means that women are already making the decision to be themselves, eat as much as they want and do whatever they want. Is it healthy, it's not. What is more important though, to be healthy or to live your life the way you want to live it? Those things don't have to come into conflict, but they can. Women have been bombarded with these "unrealistic" images for decades, yet so many of them seem to be impervious to the message that they need to be thin, (not to say that thin women are dumb sheep). Sure, many women dream of slimmer legs, or a flat tummy, or no cellulite or a smaller nose, or bigger/smaller lips. In practice, most women have higher priorities, have better things to do with their time, know what they really want, are busy and are actually intelligent, thinking beings. They don't need to be "protected" from "the wrong" message. Do I encourage an "unhealthy lifestyle" (not to suggest that unhealthy=overweight and vice versa)? Yes, if that is what you want to do with your life, because FREEDOM!

*I did mean to write that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Latex on the Beach

More from Camilla Akrans, reminds me of Melancholy Starlet. It's hard to look cold and vampy in the summer, but it is possible.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Libraries in Books: The Antilibrary

Image: Massimo Listri Biblioteca di Strahov, Praga 2009

"The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encyclopedic, insightful and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with "Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?" and the others- a very small minority- who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates and currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary."-NNT, The Black Swan

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Anchalee Arayapongpanich

These fun paintings are from Thai artist Anchalee Arayapongpanich. I can't find much about her but to me, these are from a badass who doesn't take herself way too seriously. I love the excitement, independence and joy portrayed here. The shiny motorcycles are so realistic and I love how the faces are both cartoonish and very human at the same time. 

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