Friday, 8 June 2007

Iconic Images 3

Dear Reader, if you have read my blog you may find this iconic image a little different from the ones I usually post here, a little more brutal, a little more degrading, perhaps. Maybe you will find the earlier ones more stylish and lighter than this. Still there is something about this image that draws me in.

It is made by a person who call themselves Gnarly Thotep. This character has come and gone, reappeared and gone again on the Web. There is still a gallery of their work, here.

The name sounds a little ancient Egyptian to me and perhaps this is intentional. Although it should, really, have been Gnarlyt Hotep to be Egyptian, ''hotep' being a common element in names, meaning an offering to a god or a goddess.

Enough of that. Why have I decided to put this image on my blog? It is a horrible image in many ways. A naked woman is hung upside down, her arms tied behind her back. She is not only suspended in the air but hanging in her toes. That must be excruciatingly painful. She seem to react accordingly, her face contorted in pain and agony.

There is a man, clad in what seems like a leather jacket crouching by her side. He seems calm and composed. The impression I get is that he is responsible for her ordeal. He seem to relish the situation in a way she does not.

This is really a common theme, not only in the fantasy world of bondage and torture but also in mainstream media. A person in peril in the hands of another. The one in peril is often a woman and the one in control a man (but there are many varieties).

I do find this image both exciting and intriguing. It is something about the contrast between their situations. He is in control, clothed, calm and at ease. She is bound naked, in agony and very much not in control. He has everything and she has nothing. She is totally in the hands of the man.

It is exciting to see this contrast even if I would never ever consider hanging in my toes without clothes, head down in the presence of a man in a leather jacket.

And there is something in the way the artist has rendered her. The lines of her body, the composition of the picture that is, actually, quite beautiful.

Have you noticed one thing? I am very distanced in my way of talking about this image. It may have to do with the fact that I am embarrassed that I find this cruel image both beautiful and sexy. Analysing and being intellectual about it is a way of keeping the distance.

The image is both horrible and sexy, cruel and beautiful. That is the truth. And I dared say it.


Masquer said...

The ever-changing Janice strikes again. Intriguing that you would choose this particularly severe image. (Though others of his are obviously furtehr over the "top.") Your description of it is enlightening, candid. I am interested that you chose this image from the artist -- rather than, say, either of the two next to it in Gallery 1. But this opens new possibilities -- for you and for the blog. Thank you. Keep us guessing...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Janice, I know exactly what you mean by horrible and sexy, cruel and beautiful.

Will we ever understand this thing in ourselves?


Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that perhaps the most disturbing I found in this image is the very casual nature of the man's clothes.
He is wearing everyday ordinary clothes for this extreme activity which he is no doubt responsible for.

Surely he should wear special clothes to honour the ritual nature of what they are doing?

And yet he doesn't, it is just another thing he does, like mowing the lawn, doing the shopping, suspending naked girls by their toes, washing the car, going to work.... Perhaps this is his work?

Ollie - again

Anonymous said...

Janice, there is a scene very similar to this image in one of Patrick Swayze's films called Steel Dawn.