i heard, via twitter, that vogue italia created a spread shot by steven meisel with the model kristen mcmenamy.
here are some of the images
my problem with them, and dodai on jezebel does a really good job of articulating some of the problems with the shoot, is that aside from the fact that they come off costumey and gimmicky but it also doesn't feel impassioned. some images are incredibly static and still, while only two feature the slightest bit of movement, while the shots are incredibly dark, detailed and slightly horrifying, it doesn't feel real. and that's because it's not. these coastlines are not the ones i grew up seeing. these are rocky, nerfarious, precarious coastlines where southern flatboats could never land, everything is too black and white and there is no green or blue and none of the beautiful gulf of mexico that i grew up seeing. please refer to the images below
but perhaps the strangest thing about these images is knowing that they are based purely in fantasy and they are horrifying but beauitful to look at. they look like a scene out of the '80s clash of the titans, of the river styx (or how imagine that looks like) where everything is dead, blackened and burdened. so i get it, this dead zone is a metaphor.
people are asking is it too zone?
dodai mentions that "Is it ever appropriate to use a distressing catastrophe as a vehicle to shill luxury goods? At its best, fashion photography is art; a work exhibiting creativity, skill, imagination and the ability to evoke (or provoke) emotion..."
this is art but am i moved, is it emotionally deep? and is it too soon?
perhaps in this context, yes, yes it is too soon. while it doesn't directly reference the south (see the landscapes) it is, in an obvious way, contextualizing the bp spill. the name of the spread is called oil and water. it is pretty to look it, but shouldn't it be more? shouldn't i feel something more ? and actually, i do. but you want to know what i feel, as woman from the gulf coast who is ten generations from the gulf coast? what do i feel?
immense sadness. immense, immense sadness. b/c this is the area i grew up in, the area that my family was raised in. this isn't the swamp land that is getting destroyed, there isn't any of the wild life that could become extinct, you see no graveyards of fish that is leading to the destruction of the fishing industry in the gulf coast. all i see are haute couture clothes in black, pointy rocks covered in tar, oil and a beautiful model covered in a dark sheen, i don't see anything else beyond something being sold to me. i love fashion but i...don't like this. it could've been something better but the reference of the bp oil spill wasn't insightful or articulate or amazing, it was just shock value. and i didn't appreciate it.
perhaps dodai said it best, in her closing statement "But context is everything, and instead of being moved emotionally, the only actions that seem right in reaction to this inappropriate spread which aims to shock and awe are a wrinkling of the nose and a rolling of the eyes."