The Subtle Bellocq Works.

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Ernest Joseph Bellocq was a Photographer, who was lost to history until strangely rediscovered by Lee Friedlander. From 1917 to his death, he is known for work in which he would hang around the area of Storyville, the Red Light District in New Orleans. While there is an obvious degree of potential for perversion within this body of work, there is a strange trait that is in several of his images, that changes the meaning and proves remarkably sinister.

These scratched out faces are at first shocking. A twisted, almost self loathing of the artist, that he is almost repulsed by what he’s done. Or maybe not? Maybe he is simply trying to protect the identity of these young potentially vulnerable women? Or, by removing the face, he is hyper fetishising the physical form. Trying to reduce these women to their sexual components for his own gratification.

Whatever the reason, the aesthetic is a powerful one. And relevant to the visuals of my own photography, removing the face to provide an anonymous character to lessen the attachment to the constant identity of the performer.


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