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Thinking about Image and Age and Self - Laura Wise

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June 27th, 2009

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10:00 am - Thinking about Image and Age and Self
Two linky things, with burble:

1) I didn't know that Farrah Fawcett had been an art major until I read this Vanity Fair blog about her 2000 collaborative project with sculptor Keith Edmier. As this article about the 2003 Andy Warhol Museum exhibit notes, Edmier had first approached Fawcett about a project where he would sculpt her, but "but encouraged by Edmier, she decided to make a portrait of him as well." Further, "Rather than standing in as Edmier's independently powerful muse who facilitated creation, Fawcett participated in and directly influenced the process." (The show was then panned by the LA Times art critic, who argued that her work showed she had nothing to say. Nevertheless, there's an art book detailing their project...)

What fascinates me, beyond the notion of co-creation, is the fourth picture in the Vanity Fair blog entry's gallery. Fawcett, unglamorous, wearing camouflage trousers (but cool boots) and sporting a messy ponytail, works on her sculpture. She is looking at the figure; she is doing. That isn't how I've thought of her before, and I'm glad to think of her this way now.

2) Ever since John Scalzi linked to this, I've been mesmerized by this transformative work: a video pairing the "Girl Hunt" dance from The Bandwagon, starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse and choreographed by Michael Kidd, with Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."

Michael Jackson's own video of the song is clearly riffing off "Girl Hunt," from clothes to mise-en-scene. Thirty-year-old Jackson is lightning-fast and sharp in his dancing, but ultimately the dance is about his relationship to the spotlight and his self; he gets lost in the crowd a few times, but the spotlight finds him, and the crowd follows his steps (literally). It's virtuoso, but it doesn't move me the way the Astaire/Charisse piece does.

The vidder for the "Girl Hunt"/MJ mashup makes an interesting choice from the beginning, smartly substituting a clip of Leslie Caron from "Daddy Long Legs" putting a coin in a jukebox for MJ's own magic flip of the coin. Women have agency here, which sets up perfectly for the utterly astonishing Cyd Charisse as the Blonde and the Brunette (also: unexpected Julie Newmar is Unexpected!). This is very much a partner-dance sequence -- despite Astaire's solo turns -- in which Astaire is there to anchor or lift her as they spin.

Fifty-three-year-old Astaire is more than strong enough to hold a woman like Charisse (even whilst he's smoking a cigarette!). He can hold his own in the choreographed fight, too, but the dance is about the relationship of those two bodies together, drawn together, torn apart. Both of them are carrying guns. Both of them are doing.

May you have time to do whatever moves you today!

(18 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:June 27th, 2009 10:47 pm (UTC)
That was a fantastic vid--thanks for linking.

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Date:June 27th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
Isn't the vid awesome? And I fall in love with Astaire all over again (and wish vainly to be Cyd Charisse).... ;-)

Hugs and good cheer for your Saturday, Gwynne!

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