Spread all over the heavens…


From Paper Monument:

Several years ago, at an after party for an art opening, a mutual friend introduced me to one of the editors of this publication. Hearing that I was a writer, he asked whether I’d like to pitch something to his magazine, which at that point was still in its early planning stages. The field was pretty open, he said, as long as the piece would be about art, or even contemporary culture, more broadly conceived. What have you been thinking about lately?

This was 2006, salad days not only for the booming New York art scene but also for a certain type of Young Hollywood starlet, the type whose later, messy denouement was at that point – just like the art world’s – yet to come. And so taking a sip from my drink, I said: Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about crotch shots. Specifically, how women like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton have been repeatedly caught by paparazzi as they emerge from their cars with no panties on underneath their dresses. These are no regular upskirt photographs, I explained, since any potential frisson of “gotcha” titillation is nullified not only by the blatant disingenuousness of the situation, but also by the strange thingness of what the pictures reveal. Captured in photographic glimpses and then disseminated on multiple gossip sites, I continued, these women’s (crucially!) wholly shaven vaginas carry a surprising resemblance to, say, an off-white pebbled leather moccasin, or maybe some alien species of baby bird. The increased prevalence as well as remarkable sexlessness of these images seems like an issue about which more could be said, perhaps in the pages of your new arts journal. How does that sound to you?

The editor’s response, delivered after a rather long pause (“well, we will have a web presence”) clears me, I think – even four years down the line – to finally write something here about vaginas and representation.

“Would It Be OK If I Kept My Sweater On?”, Naomi Fry, Paper Monument