Seeing the Picture: Vagaries of Fashion
As pointed towards generally in yesterday’s post, one of the most artistic of Chris Jordan’s images (borrowing its framework entirely from Seurat’s day-in-the-park painting) uses images of the 106k aluminum cans of pop-and-beer consumed (then mostly tossed out car windows from what I see along our roadside) in the US every 30 seconds. This, as I said yesterday, is a mind-grabbing method of making a point.
But as easily distracted as I am (I prefer to think of it as infinitely curious) I was drawn to the elephantine derriere of the parasoled woman, thinking at first “how grotesque”, then realizing she was wearing a bustle, then thinking “how grotesque.”
A fashion statement of the Victorian era, the “highly idealized representations of female sexual identity, at once exaggerated and concealed by the structures of adornment. A notable comparison is with the exaggerated images of the South African woman known as “Hottentot Venus” exhibited throughout Europe in the first part of the 19th century” for whom the rear was not the only exaggerated part.
Said Black Venus and her South African female sisters carry a genetic trait called Steatopygia (Maggie, our black childhood baby sitter in Birmingham who we loved dearly said generally of black folk: “We high in the back”) and somehow this odd human form was at the same time a freak-show feature and a fashion statement. I guess things really haven’t changed all that much, come to think about it, after an unfortunate incidental viewing of MTV recently. Oy.
- ‘Black Venus’ Review: The Freak Show Of Colonialism (NYFF) (moviefone.com)