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A Disturbing Twist to Vintage Photographs

A Disturbing Twist to Vintage Photographs
Shani Thomas

Shani studies English and American Literature and enjoys reading contemporary fiction and going to music festivals. She likes writing about T.V. fashion and lifestyle.

During a recent visit to the Saachi gallery in Chelsea, London, I was taken by the work of Maurizio Anzeri, an Italian artist living in London. After hovering aimlessly around the abstract exhibitions in the neighbouring rooms, I was brought to the taxing realisation of how much of an art expert – I was not. More like your average Jo, I could not begin to grasp the copious amounts artistic endeavour behind these bold works of fine art. Nevertheless, once brought face to face with ‘Round Midnight’, I was transfixed by the frightening spirituality of Anzeri’s distinctive style. Each work contains a greyscale photographic image of a central figure, beautified with colourful embroidery which I think brings out a backstory for each character.

‘Round Midnight’ showcases a woman standing face forward, in what appears to be a black veil, Anzeri’s own addition, which covers the entirety of her face excluding her teeth and left eye. Her messy hair and lower body is also exposed which, at the time, I thought funnily enough undermined the modest purposes of the veil. An important thing to note was that the primary intention of this photograph was to excite arousal, but you would not get that impression due to the transformation it has undergone. Standing in front of the work, I felt the reluctant acceptance of her objectification conveyed directly through her one exposed eye, and in that moment I felt myself change from viewer to voyeur. There is an enticing horror which hangs over this work.

The second of my two personal favourites of Anzeri’s is ‘Marcel’ wherein asymmetric shapes are combined, accentuating the bridge of the nose, the curving helix of the ear, and once again the eye. I found the almost side profile of Marcel’s positioning to embody a mysterious quality which stimulated my interest even more. The way in which the embroidery is contained to his face gives the effect of an elaborate mask, however I found that the different shades of purple and yellow threaded into various parts of his melancholy visage played with the proportions of his features giving the figure a look of waning and lethargy. In my opinion, the sickly motion of Marcel’s drooping face did not ignite forces formidable enough to make me feel repulsed, no, instead I felt pity towards him and as pretentious as it may sound, I began to imagine the kind of events in this personality’s life that would have provoked such despair.

I truly recommend that you take a look at Anzeri’s body of work in person if you’re ever even in the mood to be charmed by unusual, and quirky, pieces of art.

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