Saturday, December 23, 2006

D'Orazio's Schooling.

Sante d’Orazio is a long-winded photographer, meaning that he doesn’t shy away from filling a whole book with a series of photographs that really look very much alike. Or maybe he is simply incapable of editing his work, and finds it easier to publish every frame shot (or nearly) than choosing the best out of the lot and move on to a new shoot, idea or set. This I had already noticed in a book about Pamela Anderson’s naked body. Despite her voluptuousness I couldn’t help a surging sense of boredom as the thing went on, page after page without hardly a change. I mean: what is this? What am I supposed to make out of this repetition? Is this an attempt to link still photography and moving pictures? Am I supposed to flip through the many pages so fast as to create the illusion of movement at 24 pages a second? Or am I expected to enjoy each and every slightest variation of Anderson’s pose, longingly posing my gaze on every pore of her silky skin, only to start all over at the next almost identical page? A word comes to mind that I won’t write down (but it rhymes with banker).
This time the book is titled “Katlick School”, possibly a kind of phonetic anagram of Catholic School, and is about a young model, Kat I presume, dressed in a Catholic School uniform, either authentic or one styled ad hoc for the shoot, the shirt conveniently shorter than in reality. Kat is followed by the eager D’Orazio in a trite simulation of different moments of a School’s girl day. A very glamorous school girl, that is, beautiful and posing like a fashion model. Kat seems to have learned her lesson as to what photographers want in the same place where they all have: the usual clichés, the lips, the seducing gaze, you know what I mean. Stereotypes seriously lacking in emotion and truth. The photographs look like those that might have been taken by a talented boy friend, aged seventeen and a half, blessed by having a nice camera and a very good looking and somewhat malicious nymphette to play with. Halfway the book they go to the park, and switch both to colour and lomography using a Holga or some such plastic camera. Again Sante drags on for pages on the same theme, as if he wanted us to follow each and every strenuous step to the one frame that sums them all up and should stand alone in a book. Then, abruptly, about two thirds of the volume, we find that Kat has fallen prey to D’Orazio the “pornocrat”, and is standing naked in what is the first of many provoking sexy poses, again in black and white, in a new very explicit erotic series that leads to the end of the book. Gone is the girly setting, now it’s grim undefinable interiors and it feels like a butterfly stuck on the pages of a dirty mag, at a bar, on a sofa, with sex attributes and erotica. Gone is the seventeen and a half year old school boy with his clumsy banal charm and in comes the middle aged dirty minded man, even more despicable for being so predictable, so commonplace, so talentless.
Am I a prude? Maybe so. I do pity the girl and wish dear Katherine better luck in the rest of her modelling career and life, so that she can steer clear of photographers like Sante D’Orazio. I am sure others will find it possible and even easy to explore Kat’s potential as a model without ending in the obscene. I hope that Kat will find other ways to pose, possibly closer to her true self, more authentic, less a projection of very common male sex fantasies. This is not eroticism, it’s porn. As for Sante, his Catholic schooling, if he ever had one, obviously has turned sour: I fear he might be beyond redemption. It’s not the beauty of the models, it’s the mind of the photographer that counts the most for the result. As an atheist I don’t mind sinners, when they make good photography. This book isn’t.

Looking back on these first articles I am slightly worried: why am I so angry? Why so aggressive? Who am I taking on, and why? I guess it is the famous ones that I am after, whenever I have the feeling that their success is undeserved, or even worse, misleading to the public and photography in general. Being the end of the year it is a good time to set goals for the future. I have a mind to write stories about photography that I deeply admire, and in positive terms, constructive and all. I plan to write about Henry Cartier Bresson, Roland Barthes revealing essay, and of course the mysterious much beloved Atget. Will I stop being aggressive on others? I think not.

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