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JGB's Sinister MarriageAuthor: Simon Sellars • Sep 14th, 2006 •
Here’s a Vogue Italia photo shoot by Steven Meisel that posits supermodels as new-age terrorists (thanks for the link, FJ Torres). As Tim has already commented, “If you want to imagine the future, imagine a boot stamping on a supermodel’s throat forever.”
Yes, it’s Ballardian. Yes, it’s JGB’s imagined “sinister marriage between sex and technology”, the final realisation of “violence as consumer spectator sport”. Yes, its disturbing — living in Australia, as I do, and reading about the horrific details of the Dianne Brimble case, it’s difficult to adjudicate otherwise. And yet…and yet…it operates on so many levels I wouldn’t even begin to know where to start in beginning to even imagine formulating an analysis.
Is it a comment on the war on terror? On the place of women in society? On the predominance of anorexic models in the fashion industry, which the industry is attempting to self-regulate? Or is it, as Tim again astutely summarises, merely a point “for academic and media handbags to be flapped”? Certainly Joanna Burke, writing in the Guardian, is under no illusions. For her, “the most disturbing thing about these photographs … is that they have taken their inspiration from the torture photographs taken in Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq … we see how those images of torture have been translated into consumer products”.
Despite Jonathan Weiss’s claims to the contrary, that’s what Andres’s review, for whatever faults Jonathan thinks it may embody, was trying to get at: how much more shocking is the type of ‘libidinization of violence’ (thanks to k-punk for the clarity of terms) defined by Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition when spliced with today’s terror porn: September 11…Iraq, etc — a complete fetishisation of mediated violence. That’s at least one level on which Meisel’s shoot operates. And that’s the point Andres was at least attempting to make in his review and which Mr Weiss ripped us to shreds over.
I’m all for updating, expanding, modifying and recasting the Ballardian template…and I now know, after reading Kingdom Come, that JGB is, too. Is Steven Meisel? Perhaps Kingdom Come could form the basis of his first feature film…
Then again, perhaps Pippa, on the same chat group as Tim, is closer to the mark, when she says, “Hmmm. Pretty anodyne really. It just looks like a fashion shoot. Which makes one ask whether fashion shoots are looking more like atrocity images, or the other way around. Isn’t this the real death of affect, when it’s all pretty damn boring?”.
There’s no doubt about it — this is definitely a job for k-punk…I’m sending out the Bat Signal…
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