There’s a fine line between opportunistic exploitation and timely, topical art. It isn’t very hard to be inciting and controversial in the interest of generating an audience – you don’t need to look past GOP campaigns and demagogues. But sometimes controversy emerges because the artist tapped smartly into the pulse of something unspoken and framed it just right to make people uncomfortable. It’s rare and wonderful when art (and journalism) does that.
This entry into the debate comes courtesy of Vogue Italia, pouncing on the BP oil spill catastrophe and marrying the harrowing imagery of a ruined coastline with high fashion. I personally appreciate how layered my immediate reaction was – I couldn’t condemn, endorse, or dismiss the spread right out the gate. That, at least, suggests that photographer Steven Meisel‘s work isn’t completely any one thing. It is absolutely morbid, and the use of inky feathers and a model coughing up water plants the shoot comfortably in the realm of the grotesque. But it’s also kind of beautiful if you’re down with the darker side of things. Read the rest of this entry »