Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Marcel van der Vlugt - Handling his own addiction

The quest for beauty is considered to be the central theme of the work of Marcel van der Vlugt, seen here.  The nude or bandaged bodies are inspired by the the visual language of  the fashion and advertising industry,  while various aspects of beauty, such as beauty ideals, transitoriness and marketability, and the cliche image of beauty so commonly used in advertising is shattered.  Beauty is a term primarily employed in fashion magazines; the alluring advertisement photographs show beautiful young women representing the eternal ideal of beauty, but Van der Vlugt examines another aspect of the term beauty in the series ‘I like....'.   Giving his models a second skin, consisting of cocoa powder, salmon or cheese, Van der Vlugt speaks of hidden appetites and desires, but ultimately of decay and the loss of beauty through time.  In doing so the model of perfectionism is destroyed in his work, instead of the finest care products, he decorates his model with pastes, sludges and littering composed of materials from his own addiction and stimulant arsenal: coffee, chocolate, sugar, licorice, ham, cola, etc.

With these unaccustomed substances, Van der Vlugt transforms the models' faces, although by aligning so closely with mainstream beauty culture he is also sanitizing the radical symbolism of the transformative power of product application.  In doing so the viewer is left questioning whether these materials and products can retain some of their transformative power after becoming a part of beauty culture.


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