In this shoot by Isabeli Fontana for Vogue Paris in November 2009, they made spectacular use of strategic body painting to bring to life an almost Aboriginal feel.
The Australian Aborigines have the widespread belief that ochre paint has magical powers and is held in regard as being sacred. It is symbolic with blood in secret ceremonies. Body painting to the Aborigines was also a process of shifting their identity, to be replaced by a representation of their ancestral totem, usually an animal. On a more pragmatic level, smearing the whole body with earth, coloured charcoal and animal fat, ostensibly to camouflage smell when hunting, but also probably to maintain body temperature. In tropical areas, coating the skin with earth and fat kept sand-flies and mosquitoes at a distance.
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Ugly Models is a London-based alternative modelling agency that specialises in character modelling. Its owner Marc French says it is about “celebrating everyone’s unique beauty”. Its major clients include Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Diesel, Vogue, Elle, and Cosmopolitan. Its models have appeared in film series such as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and James Bond. Ugly Models are in official partnership with Guinness World Records and represents the world’s tallest man, the world’s most pierced woman and the world’s most tattooed man.
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Behind the Antwerp Six there is an additional, intrinsic yet unnumbered, figure. Make up artist Inge Grognard has worked closely with the iconic Belgian designers since their student days at the Antwerp Academy. She has known Martin Margiela since she was 14 years old and wept backstage as he took his final bow for the Maison. She has transformed the faces of countless models with deft, unnerving touches of her brush, from Raf Simons’ cult nineties shows to Walter Van Beirendonck just last season. Grognard subverts preconceived notions of beauty, eschewing products for paint, using bare skin as an artist would use negative space. Here she offers her interpretation of the outsider, a transformation of colour and light.
“Outsider art is art that isn’t institutionalized. I discovered Miroslav Tichy a couple of years ago. He made amazing pictures, but he was thrown out of society. He was a peeping tom, taking pictures of women with a camera he had made. When you’re talking about outsider art, he is the one for me. The Antwerp Six were considered outsiders in the beginning because there was no reference point for their work; there was no one you could compare to. They did something that didn’t exist.”
THE OUTSIDER MANIFESTO
“People want to put you in a box. For a long time I was always doing red lips and no mascara. So I became ‘the girl of the red lips’. Skin is important, and that’s the problem I have with re-touching, people become plastic dolls – though that is interesting too. I wanted to use bodies and faces as a white canvas, and I always push it in that direction. Something always stays naked on the face, not covered in product. I will always be a little bit underground. Trends don’t interest me. For me, that is not make up. Make up is working with the person in front of you; working with interesting people.”
THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS
“For this shoot I was thinking about gangs, except the transformation is quite alien, with the unsettling clear skin as a defining feature. It is a kind of stamp; with my make up there is always a stamp. It’s my signature. They gave me two words, ‘outsider and spring/summer’: what did I want to express? Spring/summer brought me to light, and the colour circle, mixing to make white light. And the alien is an outsider, of course. Did I think about a certain gang? No, this is a new gang.”
This is a journey through 12 modern ghettos starting in a refugee camp in Tanzania and ending in a forest in Patagonia. In each of these places, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, as editors and photographers of COLORS magazine, methodically documented their inhabitants, and asked them the same questions: How did you get here? Who is in power? Where do you go to be alone? To make love? To get your teeth fixed? For many of those photographed it was their first time in front of a camera. Some looked into it with a hard, penetrating gaze. Others obeyed the ritual of photography with smiles. And Mario, on the cover, turned his back on the camera and waited for the shutter to click.
Ghetto is published by Trolley Ltd.
The Afterlife series offers a re-reading of a controversial photograph taken in Iran on 6 August 1979. This remarkable image, taken just months after the revolution, records the execution of 11 blindfolded Kurdish prisoners by firing squad. The image, which captures the decisive moment the guns were fired, was immediately reproduced in newspapers and magazines across the world. The following year it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and for the next 30 years its author was simply known as “Anonymous.” Only recently has the photographer’s identity been revealed as Jahangir Razmi, a commercial studio photographer working in the suburbs of Tehran. He was located and interviewed by Joshua Prager of the Wall Street Journal.
Broomberg and Chanarin sought out Razmi, and based on their discussions and along with an examination of the neglected images on the roll of film Razmi produced that day, they present a series of collages–an iconoclastic breakdown or dissection of the original image – that interrupts our relationship as spectators to images of distant suffering.
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The Belfast Exposed Archive occupies a small room on the first floor at 23 Donegal Street and contains over 14,000 black-and-white contact sheets, documenting the Troubles in Northern Ireland. These are photographs taken by professional photo-journalists and ‘civilian’ photographers, chronicling protests, funerals and acts of terrorism as well as the more ordinary stuff of life: drinking tea; kissing girls; watching trains.
The marks on the surface of the contact strips – across the image itself – allude to the presence of many visitors. These include successive archivists, who have ordered, catalogued and re-catalogued this jumble of images. For many years the archive was also made available to members of the public, and sometimes they would deface their own image with a marker pen, ink or scissors. So, in addition to the marks made by generations of archivists, photo editors, legal aides and activists, the traces of these very personal obliterations are also visible. They are the gestures of those who wished to remain anonymous.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the original photographers Mervyn Smyth, Sean Mc Kernan, Gerry Casey, Seamus Loughran and all other contributing photographers to Belfast Exposed’s archive.