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Nothing ObviousReview - Nothing Obvious
by Ornela Vorpsi
Scalo Books, 2001
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Feb 19th 2002 (Volume 6, Issue 8)

What if the only pictures we had to represent the erotic were pornographic magazines like Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy?  What if the only visual language we to represent sexual longing and lust derived from obvious stereotypes of studs and sluts?  When I think of that terrible possibility, I am extremely grateful for the existence of books like Nothing Obvious, and indeed, many of the other photography books I’ve reviewed in Metapsychology.  It’s not necessarily that the photography is breathtaking or utterly innovative, although it is interesting and visually compelling.  It is just the fact that there are photographers who are trying to portray the human body in erotic ways different from the mainstream that makes me glad, since those mainstream ways seem so tired and uncritical of gender stereotypes. 

            Ornela Vorpsi’s pictures present fragments of women’s bodies; the models never face directly into the camera.  The women are solitary, naked or partially clothed.  Many of them present the figure against a vivid red background, others are in black and white.  Often she puts two very similar images side by side in one picture, suggesting change.  Frequently she uses a coarse-grained photographic paper, or there is distortion, blurring, lack of focus, or evidence of imperfections introduced through the development process.  There’s almost no text to explain Vorpsi’s ideas, and the blurb on the back uses overblown prose. 

            Vorpsi’s models are beautiful, although she does not show them in conventionally flattering ways.  There’s darkness and mystery in these pictures, as well as a mournful eroticism.  It’s hard to say what she is trying is achieve, but there is a consistent mood to the pictures.  These pictures might have more power if they were in large format, a meter or more high, displayed in a gallery; there’s some quality to them that makes them akin to paintings, and they seem to call out for the same scale as a painting.  Each image has a convoluted sensuality that repays viewing, starring at the image for minutes even.  This is a wonderful collection, heavy with emotion and tension. 

© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.


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