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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 Ive reviewed in Metapsychology. Its 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.
Vorpsis pictures present fragments of womens 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. Theres almost no text to
explain Vorpsis ideas, and the blurb on the back uses overblown prose.
models are beautiful, although she does not show them in conventionally
flattering ways. Theres darkness and
mystery in these pictures, as well as a mournful eroticism. Its 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; theres
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.
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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