model as muse

THE MET IS SHOWING A BEAUTIFUL EXHIBIT NOW CALLED MODEL AS MUSE: EMBODYING FASHION. 

HERE’S WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT IT:

“EXPLORING THE RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGH FASHION AND EVOLVING IDEALS OF BEAUTY, THE MODEL AS MUSE: EMBODYING FASHION FOCUSES ON ICONIC MODELS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AND THEIR ROLES IN PROJECTING, AND SOMETIMES INSPIRING, THE FASHION OF THEIR RESPECTIVE ERAS. THE EXHIBITION, ORGANIZED BY HISTORICAL PERIOD FROM 1947 TO 1997, WILL FEATURE HAUTE COUTURE AND READY-TO-WEAR MASTERWORKS ACCOMPANIED BY FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO FOOTAGE OF MODELS WHO EPITOMIZED THEIR EPOCHS.”

——–NEWS FLASH——————

PHOTOGRAPHER JUANANA PICTURAVICH MAKES A DARING AND EDGY MOVE ON THE TAILS OF THE MODEL OF MUSE EXHIBIT. HERE’S WHAT VOGUE HAS TO SAY ABOUT IT:

“IN THE HOT AND COLD SUMMER OF 2009, TWO BIKER-CHICK MODELS REDEFINE FASHION YET AGAIN ON THE ENTRYWAY TO WHAT CAN BE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MONUMENTS TO ART IN THE WESTERN WORLD. ON THE STEPS OF THE MET, “MODEL AS MUSE” HAS TAKEN ON DEFINITIVELY DIFFERENT, MORE SPORTY PROPORTIONS: BIKER-MODEL AS ANOMALY IN SOCIETY, TIED TO TRANSIENCE BUT BURNING WITH DESIRE WHEREIN THE HELMET IS A STARK SYMBOL OF DANGER-SAFETY DUALITIES AND THE CULTURAL WORSHIP OF CURVES.

Juanana Picturavich, photographer

<Began her career photographing eggs. Picturavich was later moved by the contours of shoulder pads, watermelon rinds, and all things composed in a half-spherical fashion.>

Quote: “When I was first contacted by the biker-models’ agent, I was fascinated by the idea of photographing helmets. The appeal of curved plastic heads has been trailing me for years, and I jumped at the opportunity to shoot them. There’s something edgy about it – the innocuousness of female bikers in a busy public forum, and the overlay of what it means to have a head that is half plastic with some foam on it. These layers, to me, are really all about the layers of the female persona, and the models really seemed to identify themselves almost exclusively with their helmets. I think we will see more of this kind of thing happening all over the country – soon – and it will definitely become an international trend.”

Vogue: 

“What about this one? There is something eerie about their smiles. They almost seem too normal. This frightens me.”

Juanana Picturavich:

“You should be frightened. Listen. Ask yourself this: Are these smiles genuine, even though the feet of others are so clearly on top of their heads/helmets? How society tries to stomp on the model clearly shines through, as well as the necessity of models to wear helmets in these dangerous times.”

Vogue: 

“There seem to be mixed messages in this piece. I feel an invitation, but also feel that it is disingenuous. The shiny and matte finish of the two helmets seem to be in opposition with each other… almost as if they are creating a force field that draws one in but will certainly prove deadly. What were you thinking during this shot…?.”

Picturavich:

“Well, first of all, I feel that you’re right about the mixed messages. On the one hand, the models have positioned themselves as men, sitting in an exposed/open manner, and this in itself exudes a toughness not seen in the other shots, which are far more vulnerable. In most of this series, it is apparent to me that the women need the helmets as protection. But this picture is a tension point – a door, if you will, to a whole other room. As you can see, the model on the left is being kicked in the head/helmet by a disembodied foot (the oppressive aesthetic framework, obviously), and yet she’s wearing an almost inane smile on her face, as if she finds this attempt by society to literally “knock” her helmet amusing. The whole thing is beyond sinister. Both biker-models seem to say ‘just try to fuck with us…. see what our helmets can do.’ I don’t know if you knew this, but helmets can be deadly—”

Vogue:

“I didn’t, no.”

Picturavich:

“Yes, of course. [unintell.] I won’t digress into that now, but last year alone helmets were involved in over 10,000 deaths world-wide, most of them violent.”

Vogue: 

“This one really speaks for itself – I’m a little stymied… beyond words maybe? I feel like you should just jump in…”

Picturavich:

“Alight, sure. What we have here is ALL about the sensuality of the helmet. What I find particularly erotic is the models’ transcendence of gender and approximation of male-ness and female-ness in this pose – the phallic nature of their pointed elbows and upper arms hovering in proximity to the decidedly female rump-ish curve of the helmet. This points to the idea of ‘helmet as beyond gender’, as well as the identity politic of ‘helmet as masturbatory.’

Vogue: 

“This one is part of a diptych, no?”

Picturavich:

“Yes, that’s right.”

Vogue:

“Can you speak to this side of it?”

Picturavich:

“Certainly. A crowd clears as the model crawls her way up the steps of the establishment, her biker readiness to travel hindered by the hard cold granite of tradition. This is on first glance. The second glance is not so much about circumstance, but positioning… Even this close to the ground – I mean LOW, where earth worms grovel, EARTH worms! ok ok, you see what I mean… sorry… I just get really passionate about this one – ANYHOW, even this close to the ground the model must continue to wear her helmet to protect herself from that which models have both feared and feverishly fed on since the beginning of time – the GAZE. This is so clearly embodied here by a lone man-ghost in black dress in the background – surely a sign of death and/or clergy. Again the biker-model is caught between self-protection and her own sensuality. The most interesting aspect is, for me, the fact that here it becomes unclear to me as to whether the helmet is actually protective or if it is a lure. THIS is pivotal. THIS is the question. THIS is the issue.”

Vogue: 

“Now this half of the diptych really gets me. She seems so lonely. The crevices in her helmet feel like crevices into her brain.”

Picturavich:

“I think it works on many levels, as it’s supposed to. Yes, on the one hand they are crevices into her brain. She’s exposed, clearly, and her thoughts can leak right out, invisible–”

Vogue:

“Invisible thoughts. Great concept…”

Picturavich:

“Thank you. Anyway. On the other hand, I see these crevices as leading deeper… possibly to imbedded wells of digestion and maybe even sorrow. The world has turned its back on the biker-model at this point, her helmet a mark of one too powerful and too vulnerable to accept, and so she is rejected as a freak. I keep thinking to myself – ‘If only she had a helmet for her heart!’”

Vogue: 

“This is perhaps the most poignant of your helmet series, no? I feel something joyful yet undeniably ominous about this photo. [shivers] I just got goosebumps. Happens to me every time I see this one.”

Picturavich:

“I know what you mean. It was even creepy on the set. I had to keep taking breaks as we were setting up – but I think it was worth it in the end. This biker-model is obviously flying towards the viewer in a frenzy, her powerful biker-muscles propelling her off the steps of tradition (as we’ve been discussing) and pushing her directly TOWARDS the gaze that some of the other photos have been speaking to, albeit in different ways. But HERE what we see is the biker-model as ecstatic/vicious as she anticipates annihilating that which her helmet has been protecting her from, her right arm strongly pointing towards a FRANCIS BACON sign–”

Vogue:

“‘Knowledge is power?’”

Picturavich:

“Haha, that’s right. You did your homework. [winks] This model is clearly not giving up her helmet because at this point it is not only the thing protecting her brain, but it IS her brain. It is herSELF embodied, her whole identity, and she doesn’t give a fuck about anything anymore. [short pause] I think that’s why you might find this picture so intense.”

Vogue:

“Oh my god yes. Juanana – thank you. This is an absolutely thrilling finale – I know it will stay with me for a LONG time. Thank you so much for sitting with me today and sharing this tremendous work.”

Picturavich:

“Any time.”