Since living in Baltimore, I’ve had the chance to attend several burlesque shows and enjoyed them all. I’ve seen performers of all ages, including a few older women, which is often my favorite part of the show; I love seeing these women confident about their bodies, especially in a society that values youth. A photography series by Stephanie Diani captures this same idea. She photographed The Legends of Burlesque, an older group of women burlesque dancers. Diani found these women when she visited the Miss Exotic World pageant many years ago. They made an impression on the photographer, and years later she sought these woman for her project.
All the women photographed are septuagenarians, and performed in burlesque shows well after turning 50, 60, or 70. Even at this age, they still exude a mature sexuality and eroticism. In each portrait, Diani had the women pose for pictures in their favorite Burlesque ensembles or meaningful garment. The resulting images portray glitzy, over-the-top outfits, complete with feathers, fur, beading, and jewels. This is an amusing juxtaposition with their homes, which, not surprisingly, are reminiscent of your grandmother’s home. Each woman looks self-assured and strong, and it isn’t an act. Diani remarks about the women on the Slate photo blog, Behold:
I loved spending time with the women: they were wry and smart and playful. In June 2009, I photographed Hall of Fame legend Big Fannie Annie, by her own account 450 pounds of sizzling sex, in a hotel room in Vegas where she and Satan’s Angel were getting ready to perform during over Hall of Fame weekend. Angel asked Fannie: ‘Do you have any of that cum-in-a-can I can use?’ — a reference to the industrial strength hairspray that is an essential tool of their trade. Another, Toni Elling, took her name from Duke Ellington, whom she used to know. (via Huffington Post)
Tom Bendtsen’s first book sculptures appeared in 1997. After initially creating basic structures, his work evolved with the idea of using the books’ colors to create a pixelated image effect. Bendtsen even fills the gaps in his structures with objects or scenes that ask the viewer to consider ideas of history, narrative, and creativity. The laterality of the structures and how this mirrors our absorption of contrasts and oppositions inherent in written narrative are also at play. His largest structure is composed of 16,000 books. String is used to create the forms of the sculptures, and then those forms are filled with books.
Sølve Sundsbø is a London-based (Norway-born) photographer whose highly stylized shoots bring an experimental edge into the world of high fashion. This particular series — called Points a la Ligne — was shot for Numéro magazine’s May 2008 issue. The concept is simple, yet powerful; patterned shadows of stripes and circles are cast across the body of a nude model (Edita Vilkeviciute). Between the model’s painted-white skin and the pitch-black shadows surrounding and traversing her, the photos are strongly contrasted. Her lipstick — in varying bright shades — is the only source of color that punctuates the series, attracting the eye to her mouth.
The result of Sundsbø’s experiments with light and shadow is a photo series that lends a sensual geometry to the body. In some images, the shadows — which appear painted on, initially — give her body a feline appearance, and in others, almost a pop-art/film noir aspect, or even more abstractly, the way sunlight reflects off of sand dunes. The interpretations are varied, but the illusory effect on her form is beautiful.
Sundsbø has shot for a number of fashion publications and beauty brands, including Vogue, NYTimes, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and H&M. You can explore the rest of his imaginative, sensual, and highly polished work on his website. (Via Art Fucks Me)
When looking at the photographs of Sarah Palmer you can’t help but notice the playfulness with light and colors. I find her body of work from the series, “The Riddle of Lumen”, quite interesting, and although clearly documenting an urban landscape, I also find it quite mystical. As if unfolding an urban exploration of a city, or finding a hidden gem in plain view. At least when I look at her work, it almost seems to portray and unidentifiable sentimentalism of the unknown urban setting depicted. It plays quite well with the colors and spacial composition in the photographs.
French photographer Pascal Pierrou takes interest in creating the ultimate ‘modern girl’ photo catalogue. Pierrou, a fashion photographer, is interested in showcasing alternative ‘feminine beauty’, the type that we are not really used to seeing in popular television or mass-produced advertisements. He primarily focuses on girls with short hair/no hair, tattoos, and piercings. While these women’s looks are not uncommon per se, Pierrou is looking to create a fashion-like photoshoot that shows off these women in a way that is uncommon and unexpected. For instance, his way of pairing a naked woman with a sword tells us that he is looking to show off a double-sided profile, one that shows off a rough edge, and another that features the soft lines of a slender and feminine naked body.
This idea of rough and soft lines is somewhat of a pattern amongst the photos on this series. These characteristics are indicative of what Pierrou thinks about today’s modern girl- often times, a woman that carries a powerful and tough, but ultimately soft appearance and character.
His inspiration for the series was Andy Warhols ‘Factory’ which was popular in the 60s in New York. Pierrou imagined people of a new factory, free women, feminists, artists that would exhibit their skin, hair, tattoos and words without being ashamed.