Thursday, March 18, 2010

Plate 18 from E. J. Bellocq, Storyville Portraits

2 Bellocq Plate 18

She’s pinned to the plane of focus – a soldier at attention. She’s naked and prostrate, but she concedes the minimum possible surface area to the camera. She doesn’t hide her breasts or genitals, but she isn’t exactly displaying them either. She’s on her side on a couch, her head supported by a cushion. Her hair merges into deep shadow below her left shoulder. Her right arm twists out of sight, locked behind her hip. Her left arm is squashed into the couch below her, its half-clenched fingers amputated by foreshortening. Her bare feet are dirty. The couch appears to have some kind of covering, into which her left thigh merges, but the insulation isn’t very thick. I imagine that the rattan imprints its pattern on her skin. The shadows underneath the couch are almost blank, as if it’s magically suspended, and the emulsion has disintegrated over her right hip, as it has elsewhere on the plate, leaving nebulous clouds of anti-matter in the air above and around her. A crack in the glass bisects her torso but swerves aside from her face, which retains every detail. She looks at me calmly, steadily, with neither pride nor resignation.

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