The Pirelli discussion continues

10.12.2015 | Art , Thoughts | BY:

The Pirelli 2016 Calendar has been met with contrasting reviews. Most people have been singing its feminist praises; in a markedly new direction compared with previous years, the calendar has welcomed a diverse array of successful women, and offers varied and mostly clothed images of female bodies, diverting from its usual display of artful nudity. Others have noted that while the calendar celebrates female empowerment, it also limits the sexual attractiveness and femininity of the women on its pages. It suggests that women can be either successful or beautiful, but not both.

To interpret the Pirelli 2016 calendar in this binary way would overlook the point of the pictures, in Leibovitz’s words they are to show the women exactly as they are. The calendar shows us that our bodies can be used in different ways; to represent power and strength, like the striking shot of Serena Williams’ rippling back muscles. Or as a comedic device, like the photo of Amy Schumer topless and surprised, suggesting that she didn’t get the ‘clothes on’ memo this year. These are ways that men’s bodies have been presented for a long time in the media. More than showing that flaws or quirks can be beautiful and sexy, these pictures invite us to look past the sexualisation of women’s bodies and to start noticing the other things a body can do, like be strong, powerful, suited and booted.


February, 1972, Sarah Moon

The calendar has gone viral on social media, and no matter how it is interpreted, having an iconic publication like the Pirelli calendar joining and extending the conversation about female representation can only be a good thing. Just a year ago, Pirelli’s calendar was a spread of high profile supermodels in various states of undress. The calendar may be just one small step for womankind, but it is one big step for Pirelli and towards the cultural shift we are all yearning for.


December, 1987, Terence Donovan

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Smith’s Other Side

03.01.2012 | Art , Blog | BY:

Even at 64 years old, the godmother of punk Patti Smith still manages to be a creative powerhouse.

Her exhibition Patti Smith: Camera Solo and the accompanying hardcover book show that although singing might have been the first thing to catapult her into the spotlight, the Chicago native’s talent for photography deserves equal recognition.

Smith, who describes retreating to photography like “a room of my own”, shot 70 images with a vintage Land 100 and Land 250 Polaroid camera.

Utilising black and white photography as a reflection of her career and life, she features self-portraits and objects such as the belongings of her father and close friend Robert Mapplethorpe.

Intimate and personal, the exhibit and publication showcase the undiscovered side of a cultural icon.

Patti Smith: Camera Solo is on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT  until February 19.

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PJ Harvey X II

07.09.2011 | Blog , Culture , Music | BY:

Last night, Polly Jean Harvey took home her second Mercury Prize. From being the first woman to win the prize, she’s now the first person to win twice. In 2001 she first won with Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, however the singer-songwriter was absent from the awards ceremony as she was on tour in the US. More than that, it was September 11th and Harvey spent the day watching the Pentagon burn from her hotel window.

Ten years on and aptly her eighth studio album, Let England Shake, is a conceptual work about conflict and war. “I wanted to make something meaningful not just to me but to other people,” says Harvey. With songs inspired by the WWI battle at Gallipoli the 41-year-old has set herself apart from other musicians as an artist unafraid to address ideas politically and melodiously.

This time around Harvey was very much present at the awards ceremony, dressed in a flowing white dress and feather headdress she looked like a punk-rock angel. And with Patti Smith winning the Polar Music Prize in Sweden, now is clearly a good time to be a woman in rock.

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