Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Visual Analysis: Hans Bellmer and Cindy Sherman

La Poupe by Hans Bellmer is a perplexing photograph that leaves the viewer with many unanswered questions. Its sharpness and inclarity makes the figure in the background menacing. He is prominent and well dressed in a stark black suit, which is a sharp contrast to the naked white female in the foreground. His face is obscured by the tree, so that his expression is unreadable, though you get the impression that he is stalking her, making the image quite uneasy.
I also feel that these sexual connotations could be associated with prostitution, due to the man being in a suit. She could be undressing as a kind of show.   
More discomforting is the fact that the figure he watches is a distorted doll like creature with two sets of legs joining at the waist. The over all effect is that her bottom half has been reflected upwards so there’s a kind of symmetry. It means that again, the doll has no face, and is oblivious to the mans presence and unaware that she is being watched.
As you begin to look at the finer details, you notice the frilly white socks and patent black shoes on both her sets of feet. It probably means that she is very young, and it is these added details that make the overall piece rather disconcerting.
Outside, in an expansive area while her clothes lay at her feet, it would seem that she has recently stripped, believing that she is alone. This makes her seem particularly exposed and vulnerable while her naivety reinforces the idea that she is young, perhaps only a child. The freedom that she’s created in the act of stripping is tainted by the strangers company.

Cindy Sherman’s #302 of her untitled film stills series has many striking similarities to the previous photograph. Again, photography has been used as a means of capturing a kind of installation.
The most striking element of this piece is the composition. The focal point is again the doll in the center as it fills the photograph. Due to her positioning and even stance her body has it’s own line of symmetry, which is emphasized by her looking directly at the viewer. This could be considered either seductive or challenging, or both. I think that the excessive makeup, nudity and spread legs are reminiscent of the images seen in pornography and prostitution.
The intimate feeling created by folds of draped fabric in the background could be seen to clarify this theory.
I find it most interesting that while Hans Bellmer has made a point of having no faces in his photo, Cindy has opted for having two. The one that looks directly at the viewer looks stern, straight and in control. The other, situated in the hole in her chest is upside down, with areas blocked away and eyes closed.
I think this could be a symbol for how the character portrayed by the doll would feel inside, as apposed to the visage on the exterior. They may act strong, but are vulnerable in reality.    

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