The Museum of High Art In Atlanta seems an artistic wonder from the outside itself. At 1280 Peach Tree in Atlanta, Georgia, a building grows out of the green as a stately wonder of different geometric shapes brought together by a common white color scheme. Drawn to the building that stands out uniquely in the heart of Atlanta, I find myself walking into the building to purchase a ticket, curious to explore what the inside might look like.

Outside the High Museum of Art, picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The inside is as fascinating, fashioning art from across the years and from different histories and styles: traditional African art on the first floor is followed by American art, European art, photography as well as the wing that intrigued me the most — the modern art wing — a new installation added post the museum’s expansion in 2005. Given our study of visual material in our course this semester, I found myself paying particular attention to portraits as well as how people and human figures were staged in general in different artworks.

The museum is fashioned to walk audiences through more traditional art pieces from previous centuries first. We see Thomas Cole, Benjamin West, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Claude Monet, amongst a host of others. Having briefly studied Toulouse-Lautrec before, I am intrigued to check his posters a bit more. The posters fashion entertainers in cabarets, theaters, and dance halls. It is interesting to learn about the subjects that Toulouse-Lautrec picks and how he depicts them through his use of lithographs. A closer look reveals how Toulouse-Lautrec attempts to humanize and provide center-stage to his female subjects. In each image, they are the main focus: either in their placement, color, or the ways that different subjects interact with each other. Used commercially when they were created, Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters speak to mid-1800’s Paris and the place of entertainers in artistic circles, particularly female entertainers.

Toulouse-Lautrec’s Posters, picture taken during museum visit

As I continue touring the European art section, I notice a different style that captures the human figure quite varied to the style of Toulouse-Lautrec. German artist Max Beckman’s work titled ‘Madhouse’ uses etching to capture different human faces and half-body figures overlapping on the canvas. The etching wears a dull yet chaotic look of black and white, with all figures wearing somber and worn-out expressions. Done during the time of war, the use of his color, medium, and cramped style echo the pain and suffocation of the first world war that was taking place at the time.

Max Beckmann’s ‘Madhouse,’ picture taken during museum visit

When I came across some of the paintings that the museum houses for the 1800s American art, I saw a very different placement of the human figure compared to the closeup focused attention to it that either Toulouse-Lautrec or Beckmann gave their subjects. The human figure is minuscule, lost amidst the landscapes they are framed against. Thomas Cole’s ‘The Tempest’ is a prime example. Cole’s painting captures the sublime and beauty of American history and portrays a storm of the American frontier. Amidst this setting are three figures, one of them a dying woman clad in white. While at the heart of the painting, the figures themselves are tiny. This reflects the relationship between land and people that someone like Cole attempts to voice, showing the potential and opportunity of the American frontier as what was important to highlight at this time. Cole is not alone. William Davis’ ‘The Sick Horse’ and Richard Law Hisndale’s ‘Children in a Landscape’ capture tinier human figures against American landscapes. The surroundings and setting are what is essential to subjects and the American history of the time.

Thomas Cole’ The Tempest,’ picture taken during museum visit
William Davis’ ‘The Sick Horse’ and Richard Law Hisndale’s ‘Children in a Landscape,’ picture taken during museum visit

The most fascinating encounter was the modern wing, that fashions art that is quite different from previously mentioned techniques. Here, the human figure is seen in distorted ways and played with to convey different ideas. Modern art became a time of expression and the idea of ‘art for art’s sake.’ in this climate, it is interesting what the human figure meant for different artists. The following images are some of the examples that stood out to me. For example, Lonnie Holley’s ‘Finally Getting Wings for the Forty-First Floor’ takes everyday material to create what resembles the side profile of a human figure out of wire and other material. Similar is Holley’s ‘What’s on the Pedestal Today?’, a tall pillar-like piece embellished with objects such as hairbrushes, glass bottles, and mirrors. Holley argues that these are critical for the modern consumer to build how they wish to be perceived. I think it is particularly fascinating to look at how the art piece can almost be read as a standing human figure. Instead of bodily features, there are these objects, marking Holley’s commentary on what actually makes up how we view or project ourselves.

Lonnie Holley’s ‘Finally Getting Wings for the Forty-First Floor,’ picture taken during museum visit
Holley’s ‘What’s on the Pedestal Today?, picture taken during museum visit
Picture taken during museum visit

Here are some more interesting distortions of the human figure. The use of different colors, materials, and styles stood out to me in marking how artists used art in their own ways and to express their own ideas and create certain ideas on identities. While I was unable to source the background of some of the following pictures, i included them as they are in line wit this artistic expression of the modern era.

Picture taken during museum visit
Picture taken during museum visit
Picture taken during museum visit

In my pursuit of human figures across the museum, I was particularly fascinated by the different ways artists considered human figures, be it in terms of importance and what the subject meant to them as well as what they wished to say about them and how. I hope you find them as fascinating as I did! 

Works Cited: High Museum of Art, 

Posted by: vincentgaberlavage | December 13, 2021

On Art Deco, and Victoriana, in Robinson And Harris’s Star Man

Robinson and Harris’s 94-01 run on Starman for DC is notable, not only for it’s high quality in an era where most other mainstream books were trying to tack as many spikes as they could get away with onto their protagonists, but also for it’s striking Art Nouveau inspired visuals. While these might initially seem out of place in a comic who’s main character looks like an off brand Guy Fieri with bad tattoos, they serve a definitive purpose in the narrative in visually separating him from his father.

The plot of this particular run on Starman is fairly common in Superhero comics. The original Starman, Ted Knight, is forced into retirement due to his old age and must pass his mantle onto his son. However what elevates this particular comic is the relationship between the father and son involved. Jack is in his late twenties when the comic begins. He has a job as an antiques dealer, a messy relationship with his ex, a few tattoos he regrets, and most importantly a strained relationship with the father who was absent through out most of his childhood and teenage years. His father on the other hand is a straight laced intellectual of the Greatest Generation (this was back in the days of Gen X rebellion) who has a strained relationship with his rebellious son. The difference between these two characters is represented visually through differing associations with artistic and architectural movements.

Ted, the elder Knight, is visually associated with Art Deco. The use of the style ties him back to the era referred to as the Golden Age of comics (1938-56) during which he first emerged. However the style’s sleek futuristic lines and association with the high society of the 20’s and thirties speaks to his retro futuristic optimism, and wealthy playboy secret identity (shared by a few other maybe more notable characters. It’s mechanical and aerodynamics influenced design also calls back to his creation of his own gadgets and his ridiculous but also aerodynamics inspired costume. It also places him firmly within the framework of societal power, Art Deco architecture specifically is still to some extent associated with the power of industry and finance.

His son Jack, the principle character of the comic is associated with the visual aesthetics of Art Nouveau. I might seem to be putting the cart before the horse to have the son associated with an older school of design than the father however this is actually used to tie him visually back to the counter culture of the 80’s and 90’s. The fashion of the goth subculture specifically takes a great deal of influence from Victorian aesthetics. The more natural shapes of Art Nouveau also puts him in direct contrast to his father’s geometric industrial style.

The use of Victorian and Modern aesthetics here are not just used for the purposes of aesthetics but also as a means of displaying aspects of a complex relationship between the two principle characters.

Posted by: lizl3wis | December 13, 2021

REVIEW — A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery Art Show, December 10

On December 10, the current art showcase at the A.P.E. Ltd. Gallery in Northampton, MA held an evening reception in celebration of the gallery’s Flat File Exhibition’s featured artists, one of whom was my beloved roommate. She had a print of hers accepted to the show, so I came to the reception to support her and see the artwork on display. As a pleasant bonus, this meant I also got to enjoy a night of milling around, looking at visual art, and speaking to local artists — an event that was entirely lovely in its own right.

The reception was held in the evening, and offered drinks, but no formal speeches or otherwise structured time. Instead, people were encouraged to walk around and look. The showcased work was sourced from members of the Western Mass community, ranging from Smith College art students to local Northampton retirees. Mediums included acrylic and oil paint, pastel, pen and pencil on paper, screen printings, photography, cyanotype on handmade paper, textile weavings, digital art, and even a multimedia project consisting of an old skirt smeared with a globular, textured paint that may have been constructed out of food matter. There was much more than that, as well, in just about every flat medium you could think of. Many of the showcased artists and photographers were present. I got to speak to several of them about their work, often by accident, which was the case for the piece below.

I couldn’t stop staring at this photograph in particular. After a few minutes of doing so, a man came up behind me and told me it was his photo. When I asked how he got a shot like this, he explained that it was the upside down reflection in a puddle on a bike path he was walking on. To me, it didn’t even read as a reflection when I first tried to make sense of it — there’s an otherworldly quality to it, as though the reflected trees are really there, behind the puddle. The mirrored effect also makes for some interesting visual elements, such as the white flecks in the upper half, which almost read as stars or snow in this imaginary scene. I love everything about this photo, but I was most intrigued by the beige leaf, which, to me, looks like a tear in an oil painting, or some similar artistic break in the scene. In actuality, it’s just naturally part of it. This photo played so many fascinating tricks on my eyes and mind, just by virtue of its staging within a reflection. (Zoom in for the photographer’s name — I didn’t want to make his name searchable on the internet without his consent.)

While this photographer toyed with the eye through reflection, several other artists played with distorted visuality in intriguing ways. My favorite, not that I’m biased, was the work of my roommate, Olivia Brandwein ’22. Below is her print, “Shadow.”

I love the way that this artwork forces the viewer to examine the relationship between the hands and the shadow they produce. It reminds me of the optical illusions I used to love as a kid, because they, like this piece, make me think about image and perspective as intertwined. I love what this piece does to my eyes without even trying — whenever I look at it, I see the bunny first, and then I move to the hands to puzzle out how exactly a rabbit came from those shapes. The shadow rabbit takes on a life of its own, no wrist shadows attached, emphasizing that the shadow is a creation in itself, and is, in a way, its own work of art. This piece also reminds me, in a heartwarming way, that so much visual art — whether it’s the bunny or the print itself — begins with your hands.

In 1969, Random House commissioned surrealist icon Salvador Dalí to illustrate Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The result was a four-color etching as a frontispiece and twelve heliogravures, one representing each chapter of Carroll’s work. Heliogravure is a printmaking technique originally developed by Nicéphore Niépce in the 1820s, contemporaneous with his work in developing photography. Heliogravure is considered one of the earliest ways of reproducing photographic images. Dali’s use of the medium is fitting — an abstracted representation of Carroll’s already whimsical story, expressed through one of the mediums that shaped the visual culture of Alice’s historical moment. 

The illustrations are often abstracted to the point where they could be described as psychedelic, but one feature remains staunchly and recognizably present throughout all twelve editions: Dali’s representation of Alice. The artist chooses to portray Alice as a silhouette of a woman jumping rope, always accompanied by her shadow. Dalí initially used this figure in some earlier paintings during his career, often titling the figure, “Girl Skipping Rope.” Here, this girl is repurposed as his Alice. Her jump rope is suspended in an arc above her head in every appearance. 

For all of the real Alice’s morphing, shrinking, growing, and other disruptions to her form, Dali’s representation of her is surprisingly static. The shadow, however, is granted that freedom of form. In some images, it stretches far taller than the figure, as though the sun is setting. In other illustrations, the shadow is identical to the figure, creating an uncanny doubled effect that carries echoes of Lady Clementina Hawarden’s photography, and all other features of Victorian visual culture that positions adolescent girls in front of mirrors. 

Though this Alice is only a silhouette, she still carries with her two seemingly contradictory ideas of age and Victorian girlhood. First, she seems to have been aged up considerably — a young woman, rather than a child. In several of the twelve representations of her, she is clearly drawn to have the figure of someone who’s already gone through puberty, and perhaps even reached young adulthood. This is an interesting choice, considering that Carroll’s Alice is firmly a child, several years removed from entering the nebulous Victorian space of young womanhood. This idea is complicated, however, by the jump rope.

The jump rope makes for a compelling and recognizable silhouette, but holds symbolic function as well. First, it communicates a sense of suspension in time for her character that carries interesting implications. Though Wonderland as a space already complicates the passage and function of time, we never get the sense in the original work that Alice, herself, is frozen in time in some way. This Alice, though, seems suspended in a paradoxical moment of frozen motion, the rope at the height of its trajectory, suspended in the space between upward movement and downward movement.

Second, the jump rope carries with it the undeniable connection to childhood. It indirectly suggests a reading of Alice that exists in a suspended state of play, hoisting that moment above her head; girlhood, frozen at its apex, right before it falls. 

Posted by: gaurikaushik | December 13, 2021

Table for 500 Review

Table for 500, 2021, by Rua McGarry was an exhibition that was displayed in the Blanchard Dining Commons as part of a broader collection of exhibits by Mount Holyoke students called Art Unexpected ‘21. The exhibit displayed five place settings with dinnerware that had “been rendered unsuitable for food and drink and now functions solely as an art object” (McGarry). It featured dinnerware such as plates and utensils that had been altered through the mediums of newspaper, acrylic paint, mod pod, and glitter. According to the artist, the concept aims to refer back to students taking decorative plates from Blanch in the spring of 2019 as a response to increased tuition. This project, McGarry writes in the description, allows students to take another piece of dinnerware from Blanch.

Although I was unable to view all of the installations of Art Unexpected ‘21, of the few I did see, this one caught my eye for a couple of reasons. For one, Table for 500 was placed in a very central location, one that all students are compelled to visit in order to eat. It was also an interactive work of art.

What I found most interesting about this exhibit was the interactive portion of it. Viewers of the exhibit were encouraged to take an art object from the table, while leaving something of their own behind. I thought this was an interesting concept, as it resulted in the viewing of everyday objects as pieces or components of a larger art piece. McGarry stated rhat the purpose of the interactive portion of the piece was to explore “how exchange can function outside of assigning monetary value to art” (McGarry). I thought this was interesting because the significance of art is often measured by its monetary value, and McGarry was allowing their art to be taken in exchange for common, everyday objects like a granola bar.

The result of the interactive portion of this piece was that it was difficult to tell which pieces were originally part of the installation, and which were additions by students. Trying to guess adds a different, entertaining element to viewing this installation, but taking in the whole exhibit as art without picking apart which components could be everyday objects left behind by students is also interesting. For example, I thought the plate and the cup were surely part of the original exhibit, while the paper swan and flower and balloon animal in the picture above could have also possibly been part of the art installation, although they could have also been random objects left by students. On the other hand, I thought of how the granola bar in the cup symbolized the meals of a college student: always on the go and just a little bit chaotic

As someone who knows next to nothing about critiquing art, I do believe that even after much of the original artwork has been taken, the exhibit still has the appeal of a contemporary art installation. If anything, it’s interesting to see what students choose to leave behind and how they interact with the piece.

It was also interesting to see the progression of the installation over time. Although I didn’t have the chance to take pictures of it throughout the course of the exhibition, I saw items appearing and disappearing as I walked by the exhibit every day. This photo, which was taken once a day or two before the exhibit was taken down, shows the last objects left on the table. I thought this was interesting because the description specifically stated to exchange a personal item for one of the place setting objects on the table. It’s compelling to think about how things that were left by other students could have been perceived as art and taken in exchange for something else. 

An intriguing thought I had while walking past this exhibit multiple times a day for the length of its installation was that even though there were random objects lik Tums and toothpaste on the table, I was hesitant to interact with the installation myself. For some reason, I felt that the intrigue of the art would be altered if I myself participated in it. Upon further introspection, I came to the conclusion that while I could dream up the significance of the objects left by other viewers and draw connections between the components of the installation, if I added something of myself, I would know exactly what I was thinking and why I added the random thing I did. To me, this would have decreased the value of this art piece.

Overall, I enjoyed the concept of this exhibit. For me, though, it was more reflective of the idea of collaborative art. I found a deeper connection to the way people interacted with this art piece and the objects they left behind, instead of reflecting on the idea of taking dinnerware from Blanch.

Posted by: gillianpet | December 13, 2021

Cheap Victorian Homes Allow Millennials to Become Homeowners

I recently read an article titled “Cheap old homes draw U.S. millennials escaping pandemic cages” which I think is interesting in terms of how Victorian architecture and homes are being treated in modern times.

The article’s main subjects are Kate Reinhart and her husband Cameron who bought a house near Norwich, Connecticut built-in 1885. The couple bought the home for $85,000, however, the selling of the home was contingent upon them renovating it. So the couple also took out a $100,000 renovation loan. Kate has been documenting the renovation on her Tik Tok account @the1880soctagon. The couple has chosen to renovate the home in the gothic style. While going through each room Kate provides historical details on what the original owners of the home would have used each room for.

During the pandemic, Damian Mordecai (far left) and Nick Weith bought an 1870s home they found via the Cheap Old Houses Instagram feed.

Buying and renovating a Victorian Home was always a goal for Kate and Cameron, however, according to the article cheap Victorian homes are allowing Millennials to become homeowners. The Instagram account @cheapoldhomes founded by Elizabeth Finkelstein has over 1 million followers and has helped many couples find a cheap historic home to renovate and move into. Finkelstein said that she started the account in order to help Millennials, who are statistically less likely to own a home, connect with historic homes and become homeowners.

Although the homes may be cheap, the renovations are not. Some of the people who have bought homes through the site have renovation budgets of $125,000. Some of the couples have chosen to renovate the homes true to gothic style, while others have chosen a more modern approach. Personally, I feel this is the most interesting part of this. Millennials are buying these homes and stripping them of their culture and beauty. However, I am looking forward to now following Kate and Cameron’s home renovation journey.

Works Cited

Hoffower, Hillary. “Millennials Are Finally Buying Homes – and It’s through Instagram, of Course.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 8 Aug. 2020,

Today. “Cheap Old Homes Draw U.S. Millennials Escaping Pandemic Cages.” TODAY,

Posted by: gaurikaushik | December 13, 2021

Alice in Wonderland and Oxford

One thing that I always think about whenever Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland is brought up is the effect that the scenery of Oxford had on Charles Dodgson. When I was studying at Oxford over a summer in high school, I took it upon myself to take myself on a tour of all the famous writers that found inspiration in their surroundings in Oxford, such as the door that inspired C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s grave, and the river where Lewis Carroll took his boat trips with Alice Liddell and his children, as well as Christ Church (Alice Liddell’s father was a Dean). 

Andy Haslam for The New York Times

The downside of visiting these places was the erasure of the magic of total imagination that I believed these authors had. Of course, their work and creativity still amazed me ⏤ Wonderland is, after all, thought to be something that was inspired by psychedelics. But things like the illustrations of Alice’s abnormally long neck looked a little too similar to the brass andirons with women’s heads perched on top of them in the Great Hall of Christ Church.

The discovery of these possible inspirations for Carroll’s story invariably begged other questions, though. For example, as the sub-librarian of Christ Church, Dodgson’s office could look directly into the deanery garden in which Alice Liddell often played. The wooden door set into a stone wall in the garden may have served as further inspiration in the creation of Alice in Wonderland, but what was Dodgson doing watching a little girl playing in the garden?
Of course, Dodgson could have had completely innocent intentions in his writing. Perhaps it really was, as he put it, just “nonsense.” His stories are still, after all, presented as pure, innocent, and still wildly popular children’s literature. But there are still questions of his attraction to Alice Liddell as his photographic and creative muse. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland could also be rife with sexual imagery in some interpretations (Kaigh, Georgetown University). There are many ways to interpret Dodgson’s relationship with Alice Liddell, and even Liddell’s influence on Dodgson’s stories. I think it’s interesting to point out that Liddell was not the only subject that inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, though. The city of Oxford and little things like doors or fireplaces also played a role in creating the fascinating world that is Wonderland, which I often think is completely removed from reality.

Posted by: willconley1025 | December 12, 2021

Ana Mendieta and Visual Culture

There have been multiple times this semester when something I’ve learned in one of my other classes has made me think of topics we’ve covered in this class (or vice versa). One of these times was in my Spanish class (which focuses on violence, gender, and queer identity in Latin America), when we had class in the art museum and watched a short film called Silueta Sangrienta (bloody silhouette) by Ana Mendieta. It’s a two-minute video that shows a human-shaped hole in the ground, filled with what appears to be blood, then shows the artist lying in the hole. (Unfortunately I could not find a link to the video, but I have included a screenshot of it below.) It’s part of Mendieta’s Siluetas series, a long-term project that consists of over 200 images and videos of human silhouettes in various natural settings.

A lot of the connections that I’ve made between this class and others have been fairly loose, and this is definitely one of them. Mendieta’s work isn’t directly related to any kind of Victorian art or culture, but Silueta Sangrienta (and the Siluetas series in general) made me think about some of the ideas about visual culture that we’ve discussed in this course. Mendieta’s silhouette images are often deliberately unsettling; I wasn’t quite sure how to respond or what to think about them, and I’m sure that effect was intentional. The disquieting effect of the images made me think of different disturbing images, such as the famine photographs we viewed. The basic emotions of discomfort that I felt were similar with both sets of images, but the context for those emotions was very different. There are obviously a lot of ethical issues with visual representations of tragedy and suffering, and part of the discomfort (at least for me, and I’m sure for many other people as well) comes not only from the disturbing images themselves but also from the knowledge that, in many cases, the people in question didn’t consent to their suffering being exploited in this way. Mendieta’s images, on the other hand, are created entirely by her; she is in control of what is being portrayed and how. Her photographs that depict blood, fire, and other things that may imply violence are certainly disturbing, but in a way that emphasizes the artist’s agency and her relationship with her body and the land.

Another thing about Silueta Sangrienta that I found interesting was the video format. Most of the entries in the Siluetas are solely photographed, while this one is a video but is silent and largely portraying one consistent image. The overall effect is uniquely unnerving, and made me uncomfortably aware of my role as an observer. In a way the film walks the line between video and photograph, and I felt strange and almost voyeuristic looking at it. It was an interesting experience that made me think about the evolution from painting to photography to video recording, and the different ways that things can be portrayed in these formats.

A screenshot from Silueta Sangrienta

Artnet. “Ana Mendieta.”

Posted by: lcmoynahan | December 12, 2021

Photographing Victorian Crime Scenes

TW/CW: Crime scene photos containing blood, a deceased person and detailed descriptions of deceased persons

Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), French scholar, developed the criminal anthropometry. Self-portrait ID following his own methods made on August 7 1912, at the age of 59. (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)
Alphonse Bertillon took his own mugshot as an example of the standards he wanted to set.

Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914) was a French photographer credited with standardizing the mugshot in the 1880s but became well known for being one of the first to photograph crime scenes, revolutionizing the documentation used in law enforcement. His father was a physician, likely lending a hand to Bertillon’s stomach for gruesome crime scenes, like one where a victim is decomposed and bloated, eyes bulging while it hangs off the edge of a bed. Bertillon was frustrated with the way law enforcement documented and organized information and photos of criminals, so he developed the first mugshot styles and an anthropometric identification system for criminals. Of course, this method proved to be ineffective in future years and embroiled him in the Dreyfus affair in which his handwriting analysis of a suspect led to the conviction of an innocent man. The conviction was overturned, and eventually, Bertillon moved on to be one of the first crime scene photographers. 

The following are two of Bertillon’s crime scene photos from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

There are elaborate furnishings, including window hangings and an ornate bed frame with a mini canopy hanging over the head of the bed, looming over a pillow with a lacy cover. A nicely upholstered chair is on the left, catty-cornered between two windows. A short sitting bench and a washbasin are away from the foot of the bed. This is the bedroom of someone with a moderate amount of wealth and could be a point of interest to law enforcement. There is some disarray of the sheets and blankets on the bed, indicating someone having recently woken up. A chair is knocked over, mostly concealed by the bed, and a pillow is on the floor. The eye is quickly drawn to the framed Birth of Venus print on the back wall, unusually tilted, and the large bloodstain on the pillows at the head of the bed.

The second picture reveals Madame Debeinche, the victim. She is lying between the bed and the back wall. A second chair is knocked over. The body of Madame Debeinche is posed eerily similar to the Venus in the painting above her. Her fingers and toes are dark from livor mortis, suggesting she had been dead for six to 12 hours before the photo was taken. She is still wearing her nightclothes, now stained with her blood spatters. Coming from the bottom left corner of the photo is the bottom half of the first tipped chair, pointing directly at the deceased. Despite the coincidence, there is an irony in the painting being the birth of Venus while the death of a woman happened right below it. The positioning of the chairs and tilted picture suggests a struggle between Madame Debeinche and her killer, though the delicate, tall table in the corner holding a vase of flowers remains untouched. 

While generally used for legal purposes, photographs of victims of crimes were treated differently than some others. Notorious outlaw Jesse James and Jack the Ripper victim Mary Kelly were seen as “others” in relation to other victims. In her book Photography and Death: Framing Death Throughout History, Racheal Harris says, “publication and dissemination of the slain criminal body was a tool through which law enforcement might indicate the consequences for criminal behavior” (Harris 36). Jesse James was a bank and train robber and the leader of a gang, highly sought after by law enforcement. When he was caught and killed by the police, his post-mortem was very different from what we see in others. There are no flowers or other adornments in his coffin, he’s not wearing what would be considered his best clothes, and there are officials surrounding him, to indicate he was in fact a criminal. The release of these photos were probably trying to deter anyone else from doing something similar meeting the same fate. Other killed criminals were pictured at the scene of their death, wearing the same clothing they died in, showing a lack of compassion from those involved (Harris 36-37). 

Mary Kelly wasn’t the same kind of criminal that James was. Though sex work was and still mostly remains illegal, Kelly could still be considered the same level of criminal as James. Mary Kelly was the only Ripper victim whose whole body was photographed. She is mutilated beyond recognition from head to toe and some of her organs are set on her side table. Her head is turned toward the camera. Megha Anwer, author of “Murder in Black and White: Victorian Crime Scenes and the Ripper Photographs” details the journalistic aftermath when it was discovered that one of Kelly’s organs, her heart, was missing. The journalists took this information and ran, disregarding the way in which Kelly had been murdered. “To focus on the absent body part becomes a self-deluding detour that allows us to turn a blind eye to the remnants of the savaged body left behind by the murderer,” Anwer says (438). Officials and journalists treated Kelly’s brutal murder as less important and sensationalized it more simply because she was a sex worker. Many consider sex work immoral and degrading to one’s reputation and in society, they are not seen as worthy of the compassion and respect as others. The photograph of Kelly is haunting and gruesome and a stark reminder of why Jack got his Ripper moniker. 

Works Cited

Anwer, Megha. “Murder in Black and White: Victorian Crime Scenes and the Ripper Photographs.” Victorian Studies, vol. 56, no. 3, 2014, pp. 433–441.,

Bertillon, Alphonse. “Album of Paris Crime Scenes.”, Metropolitain Museum of Art,

Harris, Racheal. “Romance: Post-Mortem Photography.” Photography and Death: Framing Death throughout History, 2020, pp. 19–39.,

Jones, Richard. “The Mary Kelly Photo Gallery.” The Mary Kelly Photo Gallery.,

Posted by: kate m. | December 12, 2021

Exhibition Review | Pamela Tulizo: “Face to Face”

The first thought I had while thinking about photography exhibitions was the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris. I’ve been very lucky to have visited Paris twice, and both times I’ve gone to this amazing photography museum; it might be my favorite museum, and I highly recommend it should you be in Paris.

I was completely enchanted by the photographs I saw in a forthcoming exhibit by a photographer I had never heard of: Pamela Tulizo. The MEP’s exhibit, “Face to Face,” doesn’t open till 2022, so I crossed my fingers that another exhibit of her work would be available elsewhere online. 

Tulizo won the 2020 Dior Photography & Visual Arts Award for Young Talents, where the theme of the competition was “Face to Face,” the exhibit had originally been presented on Instagram due to the pandemic, and is now available in certain art and fashion magazines, like V

“Face to Face” completely “flips the script” on the Victorian photographs and illustrations of citizens of countries suffering from war and famine that we’ve studied in class, which often showed the intense suffering of women and children. Tulizo, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, started her career in journalism prior to becoming a photographer. Her experience as a journalist was a factor in the inspiration to show women who are resilient while in difficult circumstances, who still maintain an interest in fashion, make-up, jewelry, and creating a personal aesthetic. 

Tulizo’s journalistic background reminds me of KJ Brown’s essay on Kevin Carter. Tulizo’s work is basically the opposite of Carter’s ethically controversial photographs of impending death. Her photographs, with women in bold and colorful outfits, are full of life. 

Other photographs in her collection address the issue of journalistic representation of African women. In the series, “Double identity (Women from Kivu),” a woman is “unzipping” half of her face as it reveals the logos for dozens of media outlets. This photo presents numerous questions to the viewer, asking them iif the media’s images of African women are artificial. If it’s false for a woman’s “unzipped” face to reveal media enterprises thousands of miles away, then what does that mean for people who consider those outlets to be sources of factual news?   

Another portrait from the “Double-Identité” series that shows the complexity of womanhood in Africa is one in which a woman is shown with half of her face and outfit dirty, covered in what appears to be soot, whereas in the other half, the outfit is clean, and that half of the woman’s lips are colored with pink lipstick. The left ear is an interesting detail, where it appears that there’s an expensive-looking earring, which is then attached to a chain of safety pins that go around the woman’s collar, and then upwards around the right side of her neck, the side of the portrait where the woman looks like she’s just been thrown into dirt. The safety pins going around the neck on this side is a visual reminder of bondage, yet the portrait also shows the safety pin chain as a fashion accessory. Her manicured fingernails and the position of her hands in the portrait is also contrasting, where the left hand has a kind of “vogue” gesture, while the right is over her abdomen, like she is protecting herself from the jacket being opened.

Tulizo’s award-winning exhibition also includes photographs where mirrors are used in a very empowering way. I was very excited about seeing the use of mirrors in her photographs, as I think mirrors are one of the most interesting items in an artist’s “back of tricks,” whether it be the end of Shakespeare’s Richard II, Jack Nicholson in Batman, or the last episode of Twin Peaks. In one of her “Double Identité” photos, we see a woman who is in a forceful pose over a mirror, a mirror with a bright orange trim, when the woman’s surroundings are very gray. She’s located on a street, the sky is gray, even the trees seem to be more gray than green. The image in the mirror shows the woman in bright pink scrubs, glasses, and a stethoscope around her neck. When I first saw this photo, I thought the image in the mirror was the woman in a complete hospital uniform, but when I looked at it more closely, she’s wearing a hospital scrub shirt but with ripped black jeans that are very punk rock. Is this a photograph that is “triple identity” rather than double? Is the woman seeking a future where she can have a multi-faceted identity where she works in a medical setting, and during her free time has a personal fashion style that involves ripped jeans?  I have absolutely no idea, which is one of the reasons why taking in these photos is a fun experience.

In the biography of Tulizo included in the introduction to her forthcoming exhibition, it’s mentioned her father was unhappy about her career choice, and that photography is a profession for men. To that end, her photographs of women who see themselves in the mirror as health professionals and construction workers is an act of personal rebellion. The MEP’s exhibition of her work will certainly inspire viewers to re-examine the visual representation of women in unfamiliar, faraway parts of the world, and who they really are.

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