Skip navigation

…Lévi-Strauss (1969a) explored the logical-universal life to which he claimed collective systems of classification could be seen to lead. If Chomsky could argue for underlying grammatical structures of which every language and every speech-act might be said to be transformations, then Lévi-Strauss determined that comparably unconscious, deep structures of symbolic classification, albeit now culturally derived, inhabited the minds of socialized individuals. A structural anthropology might chart the vast network of transformations and variations by which the classificatory systems of different cultures and times were linked and the transformatory principles (such as binary opposition) by which this was effected. (Rapport, Overing, 2000, 35)

Im going to apply what I’ve learnt from this approach to the photograph and see what I get from this.

Model : Real Person

Fake World : Real Life

Synthetic : Natural

Glamour : Anti-Glamour

Fashionable : Unfashionable

Posed : Off-guard

Clean : Dirty

Retouched : Raw

Lie : Truth

Culture : Nature

The binary opposites in the photo are a constant theme. Day tries to present imagery that is the opposite of what is typically regarded as fashion. It is only typical that her photos would be considered a new type of fashion especially since that is the context in which her photos of this anti-glamour style where published. In the photo (Georgina, Brixton) there are two major areas where the opposites are most effective.

The first is within the subject; through prior research I know that Georgina is a model, however the depiction of her in the photo would suggest otherwise as it did for me initially. Day creates this disassociation by presenting the model at her least presentable, least attractive and least glamorous. Day talks about the phony poses and faces in fashion, whereas there is a greater sense of truth in the off-guard model. It’s to say that the realer person in presented here, however awkward, and makes a distinction between Georgina the model and Georgina the person. Day challenges contemporary beliefs of the ‘life of a model’, presumed glamorous and expensive, with the high fashion and big money commercials, and instead documents the opposite, perhaps more truthful. From her work with Kate Moss, I presume that the photo was taken in Georgina’s flat/house, and if not somewhere where the model naturally would have been. The surroundings suggest the opposite of luxury and expense, along with the dirtiness and presents a less aspirational image of beauty.

Day emphasizes these oppositions with her photographic style, not staged, nor directed nor planned. The photo is left raw, without heavy retouching thus a grater sense of validity. I’m unsure as to whether Day wants us to be able to relate to the person rather than the model, the truth rather than the fiction. I say this as the real life depiction by Day as truth, may be untrue in the sense that the photo was chosen out of what I guess would be many, to fit Day’s intention. The next photo may have shown her smiling. So the line between the real and fake are uncertain, as through accepting the typical fashion imagery as fake, we can contextualize that as part of what we understand as true, whereas Day’s presentation may represent a minority and more subjective aspect of ‘the life of a model’.

The culture nature distinction can be made here easily, with the fashion as a cultural creation, however I’m hesitant to call the photo natural for the same given reasons as before, and the idea that in the present day, the photo reflects an ideal that is already associated with the fashion industry and showbiz, that of a drug fueled, grungy rock and roll image. So what may have been regarded as natural is more cultural, and like a sub-culture which is used as creative image in fashion and music.

I think this approach has been successful in helping me analyse the photo in another way.


Last edited by joshuahastingscmp on November 8, 2010 at 6:56 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: