Venus

Photography, Free Colaboration, 2007

Photographer: Franziska Holz
Postproduction: Olaf Paasch
Modelling: Nora Hillen
Costume/Setdesign: Judith Stryczek

 

This photo production is the result of a semester assignment – the task was to develop a costume for Venus and to place her into a scene. The character was to be inspired by the figure of Venus in the opera Lohengrin by Wagner as a starting point. In my opinion the seductive Venus should wear nothing at all, she might cover her “treasuretriangle”  with her hands- that’s it. That’s why this challenge was a bit awkward for me and I started making collages with the Botticelli Venus in a bathing gown or bikini. That was the only thing I could see the Goddess of Love dressed in. While trying different variations, a theme from my  third semester studies in art history popped into my head. One of my courses was called “scandals in art” and we talked about the “scandalous” in the paintings by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) or Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). In their paintings they depicted the naked women with a lot of pubic hair, therefore the paintings in their day, were not accepted in public exhibitions.
If you look at other nude paintings, sculptures and images where naked women were depicted- they were always without pubic hair, even the  labia was missing. This was the tradition from the ancient Greeks until the end of the 19th century. So the whole issue must be, for sure political.  Also men weren’t shown life-like, when you think of David by Michelangelo, his sexual organs were more the size of an eight year old boy. My impression is that a non sexual Goddess of love is like alcohol-free champagne, or even worse. So I decided that my Venus should at least have as much pubic hair as to be able to knit a bra out of it. The kimono is to emphasize the nakedness of the model even more. I silkscreened the kimono with the pattern of a clitoris, a graphic-design that you can still find in the wikipedia-artikel about this theme.