Monday, December 20, 2010
At the Morgue (above) is one of those photos one is sure (at first) is a trick photo a la Weegie.
Then one begins to doubt it's a trick photo.
Then one hopes to God it's a trick photo.
And then one knows.
This is not a trick photo.
Because how could death (capital D?) be this funny?
Cut in half and still smiling?
How can a corpse look so relaxed? So amused?
This, for me, for good or ill, is an unforgettable photo.
Danny H. (above) continues the theme of plane sectioning (I'm talking about the pomegranate) but mercifully spins the mind off in another direction.
Although, one does wonder whether the body laid out before the weirdly patriotic figure here (red, white and blue broadly interpreted) is living or dead.
Is this a strange take on the archetype of the undertaker?
There is possibly a caricature of this in the weird finery (hat and glove) that the figure wears.
The pomegranate in Greek mythology was strongly associated with the Underworld. In the myth involving Demeter, Persephone and Hades, it was Persephone's consumption of a certain number of pomegrante seeds that condemned her to remain (at least seasonally) in the underworld, as Hades' (Pluto's) concubine.
So Hades was an undertaker as well.
And, for me, this photo is strangely sexual in the same way that the Persephone myth is.
The nude laid out does seem to be captive.
Or has he been merely captivated into submission?
The strange mythic overtones of the photo are both unsettling and sexy.
Is the strange figure a personification of America? America the consuming?
Is the photographer saying that America is both seductive and cannibalistic at once?
Why am I thinking of Goya's hideous painting of Saturn Devouring His Children?
While this photograph isn't quite that dark, it edges into that territory for this viewer.
It's as if that Goya painting were reinterpreted--with humor. Not that there isn't black humor present in the original painting!
But I'm talking about seeing this as a possible reinterpretation of that, a revisiting of that theme, in a lighter vein.
But the sexual charge to the picture is what torques it off in a different direction.
And I do admit I find it exciting. In that pervy way.
There may be only 264 photos in Belyi's Flickr Photostream right now, but there's more than enough to publish an amazing book.
So many classics I lost count.
Biographical information on his profile is scant.
Born: Odessa, Ukrane
Currently: Astoria and near Albany, NY, USA
He quite appropriately lists his occupation as "preoccupation."