There’s nothing better than starting your morning with a nice cup of coffee and a little photograph of Robert Plant in a Speedo, playing soccer, casually, in Encino. I mean, am I right? At least, this is how I feel about Brad Elterman’s vintage paparazzi photography.
Taken when he was a teenager in the 1970s, long before roaming candids overwhelmingly lined our checkout shelves and powered ad revenue for various websites, Elterman brings a wild naivety to these specific shots that are, strangely, almost endearing. This softness might be relative to time + distance, but I don’t know. I also like to think that it’s more so reflective of the person behind the camera: a teenage youth excited to relate and investigate not just icons, but also the heart of his beloved city: Los Angeles.
For instance, the most striking aspect of Elterman’s Joan Jett portraits is not her fame nor her coolness, but instead, it’s an understanding that the photographer has with Jett’s charming desire to dwell at the Tropicana and slum amongst LA’s Rock N’ Roll finest. There’s something very optimistic and lovely about identity and everyday social performance that is examined. Scroll down after the jump to see what I mean, and while you’re there, check out a perfect shot of super casual Rod Stewart mingling after a random soccer match in Coldwater Canyon, dragging a pint of beer and chatting up some pretty dog walker. In each image, we are not wowed by hot nightclubs nor couture culture. No. We’re impressed by Los Angeles and it’s rich variety of eccentric yet absolutely charismatic artists figuring out how to be seen and be in the world as they are, at the same time.
Through a series of provocative self-portraits rendered as paintings, photographs, and film, Andrea Mary Marshall examines the intersection of identity, female sexuality, and consumer culture in the context of the “ideal woman.”
“A Woman is a beast. She is as lovely as she is repulsive. She is one part demon and one part goddess…one part slave, one part muse…one part child and one part mother…these contradictions are what make a woman so intoxicating.” – Andrea Mary Marshall
Toxic Women is a narrative collection of work that looks at the implications of trying to live up to the cultural figment of the “ideal woman”. Through identity play that borders on performance, Marshall reinvents herself as highly developed characters meticulously crafted through the art of fashion, makeup, wigs, and props. For her series of “Vague Covers”, Marshall depicts the “toxic woman” as a dichotomy, born out of a pursuit of the ideal, simultaneously adored and rejected by society. There is the addict, the temptress, the woman with no boundaries, the self-saboteur, the perfectionist and the fame whore—archetypical toxic women Marshall has both encountered and embodied. Beginning with the “Vague Covers”, and carried out through the entire collection, the work explores the space where feelings for this toxic woman turn from infatuation to disgust, from attraction to repulsion. “We all have our demons. We can’t move into the light unless we’re willing to look at our darkness.” – Andrea Mary Marshall