Here it is:
I don’t think it’s an original, but it’s certainly a copy after the style of Allen Jones series of BDSM sculptures of women as furniture from the Pop Art era of the 1960s. 1969 to be precise.
There’s layers to this manufactured scandal, all of which annoy the living piss out of me.
Jones’ originals are of indeterminate white-ish face and since there have been copies and the inspired of every race. It seems peculiarly telling that the objection seems to be on the grounds of racism, rather than objectification of women, which would seem the more obvious choice and – indeed – the point Jones’ appears to have been making with the pieces.
Placing it in a racial context and ignoring the gender/sexual one is idiotic and has knock-on problems.
- The prioritisation of race over gender as a source of objection.
- Ignoring the fact that such a piece represents broader inclusion, increasing the variety of representations.
- Disempowering and shaming persons of colour from the kink scene who already have a hard enough time processing it given the history of slavery.
A few stories seem to have missed that this is related to Allen Jones at all, whereas I – despite dodging Art History as much as possible while being educated – recognised it immediately. The reporting has also failed to note the piece’s history of controversy and its status as an iconic piece of Pop Art, perhaps the reason for using it in the shoot.
Jones was not a racy exploiter, but rather a cynic of what he saw as the increasing commodification of peoples lives and the sexual revolution of the 60s. The piece is a critique as much as a salacious parade of kink. A fact that was also missed by one feminist critic who attacked his ‘chair’ piece in 1986 by hurling paint stripper at it. This, and its standing as a piece of art, got it included in an exhibition at the Tate of art that had been attacked.
All of this is relevant, all of it gives context, all of it is lost under the cheap and (ironically) exploitative cry of ‘ZOMG RACIST!’
Art, writing, culture, photography (even/especially in commercial forms) – it all needs to be free to provoke thought, discussion and self examination. That’s been replaced by a simplistic ‘I’m offended’ and forced, insincere apologies. This is not healthy ground to be on, unable to talk, unable to think, unable to investigate or take the time to absorb and reflect.
Stop feeding it.