Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cake or Death?

Death by Cake by Daniela Edburg

Eddie Izzard does this bit about poorly designed executions in which the soon-to-be-dead are given a choice between "Cake or Death?" Naturally, everyone chooses the cake, and when there is no more cake, cheeky dead men walking suggest that they'll have the chicken instead.

That's only mildly relevant to the photograph above, but it appears that the subject has chosen both cake AND death.

The photograph is part of a series by Daniela Edburg exploring women, horror movies, gustatory desires and the subsequent consumption that must occur. Each of the women in the "Drop Dead Gorgeous" series is ultimately consumed and destroyed by that which she has overconsumed in life. There are some that refer specifically to the containers in which things come, but I find those to be less artistically interesting than they are conceptually interesting. ("Death by Saran Wrap" features a woman wrapped in a spiders web of Saran Wrap, her desires for freshness and confinement literally choking her to death.)

These photographs remind me of the work Cindy Sherman did in her "Untitled Film Still" series, in which Sherman herself posed in various costumes and settings that would evoke archetypical scenes in films. The point, of course, was to make them look as authentic as possible, such that they could be mistaken for an untitled film still.

Edburg does this kind of referencing, as well. Her references are not to genres as Sherman's were (although "Death by Tupperware" is a reference to hentai pornography, including a cat looking up a girl's skirt as she is strangled by some tentacled being in her frige), but to specific films and specific paintings. "Death by Cotton Candy" intentionally references The Wizard of Oz, in addition to being incredible beautifully composed.

Death by Cotton Candy by Daniela Edburg

"Death by M&Ms" could be a fate awaiting my friend Magen, and its this photograph that feels the most like Sherman's to me. Perhaps its the very 1970s nature of the photograph that connects it to Sherman's work in my mind, although I would guess that the more specific reference is to The Valley of the Dolls.

Death by M&Ms by Daniela Edburg

Edburg also references art. "Death by Oreos" references Whistler's "Composition in Black and Gray" (aka "Whistler's Mother"), but I find this one to be much more interesting:

Death by Slimfast by Daniela Edburg

It's based of Ingres' "Le Grande Odalisque," which I find uniquely disturbing because of the odd ways in which this woman's proportions are stretched (much like Dennis Leary's neck in this ad).

Ingres, 1814, Oil on Canvas

I love that the girl in "Death by Slimfast" seems to retain the kind of oddness about her body that the original Ingres work features (just look at that elbow!); it pairs incredibly well with the message about distorted body image presented in Edburg's photograph. Even the face in Edburg's piece is eerily close to the Ingres for me.

Daniela Edburg's other photographs in the "Drop Dead Gorgeous" series can be seen here, along with her interview with The Morning News.


Meg said...

Good stuff.

Bri said...

Ah, Steetz! Trippy photography (and particularly trippy fashion photography) is yet another one of my esoteric interests... I LOVE it.
For some reason, I never knew that the Ingres' painting was called "Le Grande Odalisque," even though I just studied it in my Humanities class, we just focused on the imagery. It makes complete sense knowing that now, though, that there's a distortion, since I know from Wallace's Infinite Jest that the Odalisque is an image of impossible beauty: she's kind of a reverse Medusa figure in that her beauty is supposed to be so strong that she turns you into stone. Wacky.

Stevi said...

Dude, that's awesome about that Odalisque. There's so much wrong with her body in the Ingres painting. She basically has no elbow, her back is far too long, her feet are in impossible positions . . . and her butt definitely shouldn't look like that. I think Professor Monahan described her elbowless arm as a "sausage arm."
And I guess her impossible beauty is so strong that she turns you to Slimfast powder?
Also, if you love weird fashion photography, I should start profiling my favorite photos from America's Next Top Model. By far the best shoot this season was a crime scene photo shoot. Lots of beautiful gore. Good times.

Marcus Gorman said...

Hey, I thought you said the best photoshoot of ANTM history was the candy one.


And it's "Denis" Leary, woman.

Now, apparently, blogger wants me to write "wujqtn." Fascinating.

Bri said...

Her ass (the Ingres) is always what bugs me most.
And, definitely, you should share the crazy photo stuff. If you feel like schleping around LJ, they have some avant garde fashion photography groups and I occasionally post my faves.

Drew said...

These are amazing. Good work.

Also: TAG!

Also also: The WV is "qdibs." As in, knock-off Q-Tips you buy and they give you an ear infection because they're made in someone's garage.