Topic 5 – Fascinating Looks
Gazing at Photographs? FORUM & MODULE SEMINARForum Task
Post to the Forum below:
August 1991 More Demi Moore cover
I have selected this image that Annie Liebovitz took of seven-months pregnant Demi Moore, wearing only a diamond ring for the front cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. I see this as a positive gaze looking at this image in 2022, but over 30 years ago this image was very controversial. The Los Angeles Times printed “It’s tacky,” says Liz Miller, 23, of Sherman Oaks, who can’t imagine “why anyone would want to display her swollen stomach like that--and why people would want to look at it.”
Vanity Fair quickly realised that there would be a backlash for the distribution of the magazine and the issue had to be wrapped in a white envelope with only Moore's eyes visible, with some editions delivered in a brown wrapper evocative of porn magazines. Some stores and newsstands refused to carry the August issue, but in total approximately 100 million people saw the cover. Leibovitz's portrayal of Moore drew a wide spectrum of responses ranging from complaints of sexual objectification to celebrations of the photograph as a symbol of empowerment.
Comments on my post:
"I think that the confident nature of this image at the time would have made a positive impact to women going through pregnancy, as it presents a voice that comes from an impactful figure, encouraging pregnant women to be seen. I do wonder whether this would be seen as empowering now though, as it presents women with an ideology that isn't a true reflection of the reality of pregnancy, as it creates a language within the beauty industry that defines how a pregnant woman should appear. I do not have children, so my perspective is specific to my own point of view, but I somehow doubt I'd look like Demi Moore if I did ever have children! I think that the beauty industry is getting better at representing diversity, as I've questioned below, but in my opinion there is still work to do. I find it crazy that this was seen as offensive, but that is just my stance! "
"I can imagine this image was considered controversial and too bold 30 years ago, but I'm glad somebody at least tried to put a pregnant woman on the front cover of a magazine to show that pregnant women shouldn't feel left out just because they are pregnant. But I do agree with Jessica that this image nowadays can also be seen as an exaggeration of how pregnant women look like. Demi Moore looks very confident and beautiful in her 7 months of pregnancy on that front cover. Being almost 7 months pregnant myself at the moment, I can assure you, to look like Demi Moore is not the reality for everyone. I personally feel pretty miserable with every coming week, and definitely don't feel like I would like to be photographed in my current state. Advertisements with pregnant women in them usually contain pretty happy women, but pregnancy is not all roses. Apart from being happy about the upcoming baby, there are plenty of complex emotions connected with it. I found the following ad which sends to me a positive message because of it's text "we can't smack the lady who asked if you are carrying twins but we can make you deal with almost everything else" - this makes me feel like there's somebody on the other side (the designer of the ad) who actually understands how sensitive pregnant women can get."
Figure 1: MOMMY SHORTS. 2014. Healthy mama campaign [advertisement]. From Mommy Shorts [online]. Available at: https://www.mommyshorts.com/2014/03/healthy.html/comment-page-13 (Links to an external site.) [accessed 18 February 2022].
"I remember when this issue of Vanity Fair was released--and seeing it mostly hidden in a brown wrapper, so that you had to purchase it to see the entire photograph. This image created a loud conversation--many debates and horrified a lot people. But it sold! I remember the issue being sold out quickly... Got a lot of press for the magazine, and for the actress who modeled. Interestingly, I have no memory of Annie Liebovitz as the photographer. I do remember thinking that Demi Moore was brave posing like that...but I did not see the photograph as objectifying her. When I saw the photograph here, my mind remembered it immediately--like it is stored in my memory, which interests me.
Thinking about today--what if this photograph was first published in 2022? Would the backlash be similar? "
Reflecting on all my forum and webinar feedback there were some common interpretations of my work referring to nostalgia, calmness, memory and the thought of time passing which all relates to my intention, so it is pleasing to see I am progressing in the right direction for engaging with my audience.
I am still finding it difficult to articulate the intent of my photographic practice, both verbally and in written work, but I am hoping that collating my ideas and research for the Critical Review and being able to present this through the Video Presentation and Peer Review will enable me to be able to practice these skills.
I have been researching a wide range of material to make sure my work is critically, visually and contextually informed and have looked at a mixture of photographic theorists, practitioners, artists and psychologists including John Szarkowski, Roland Barthes, Stephen Shore, Paul Gaffney, Ori Gersht, Paul Nash , Chrystel Lebas, Donald Winnicott, Liz Wells, John Berger, Jesse Alexander, Idris Khan, Stephanie Jung and John Taylor.
I have found that by reviewing and consolidating both my own work and the research undertaken that I have been able to reflect on my photographic practice as work has progressed. This is helping to consolidate my ideas into a cohesive body of work. I have found that it is better for me to explore ideas extensively, then discard those I don’t feel are not as cohesive to retain a stronger core of successful work. I have not fully decided yet the context in which my work would be viewed but would ideally like to see it printed and exhibited.
The strengths so far have been with the images I have taken using pinhole cameras, infrared, and Intentional Camera Movement. I have explored constructed landscapes through mirroring and then layering images but although these have produced striking and mesmerising results, these do seem rather contrived and not cohesive with the rest of the body of work. I now feel I need to develop the pinhole photography further to incorporate more of these within my portfolio.
Photos from week 5:
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