Images are powerful things. What shakes one person to the core is just as often stunning and inspiring to another. Beauty truly is ‘in the eye of the beholder’.
Which is why I was so interested when I stumbled upon this article recently. A Bulgarian magazine has stirred up some serious controversy by publishing a shocking set of photographs by Vasil Germanov.
Titled “Victims of Beauty”, the images depict gorgeous women – but with a twist. They are all mutilated, in some form or another. Bruised, sliced, burned, etc.. The pictures are quite beautiful, actually, and while I’m not sure what the underlying message is because I can’t pretend to read the artist’s mind – they certainly stay with you. The juxtaposition of these perfectly gorgeous high-fashion faces and the brutality ‘inflicted’ upon them is jarring.
Art Or Fashion?
But upon researching a bit further, I found out they weren’t shot as “art” per se, they were shot as a fashion spread. Hmmmm. That gave me pause. I’m not here to comment on the rights or wrongs of glamorizing violence against women – violence against anyone is wrong. Full stop.
But I’ve worked in the media my whole life, I get that “sex sells” and “if it bleeds it leads” – and high fashion and haute couture has always been about big extremes and shocking imagery. Hell, Helmut Newton did it best.
But I was surprised to see rather low end everyday brands associated with this campaign. Sure, Valentino is there, but so is H&M. And Max Factor. You know, the brands that everyone’s 13 year old daughter aspires to wear and use as she grows into a young woman.
Always Go To The Source!
And lo and behold, three young girls walked down my street! Two were 13 and one 15. I asked them to look at the pictures, and tell me what they thought. Once they got over the ‘crazy lady asking them to look at pictures part’, they made it clear to me that they weren’t the least bit ruffled by the images.
In fact the pictures were “cool” “neat” and “a little scary, but, like, art!” God love ‘em.
I have to admit. I was surprised by their reactions. I expected shock. A few blustery protestations of youth at the very least. But nope. They didn’t even flinch. Which leaves me wondering this: have we overdosed for so many years on murderous movies, violent video games and the magic that special effects make up can create that we just don’t “see” it anymore?
And what does that mean for real life? What are those girls’ reactions when they see images of war? Or torture? Does everything register as “special effects”? Like, cool! That unnerves me slightly.
Thoughts? Art or objectification? Are you surprised at the girls’ reactions?
Photo Credit: Vasil Germanov