Friday, March 26, 2010

Plate 29 from E. J. Bellocq, Storyville Portraits

4 Bellocq Plate 29

She’s naked, with her back to me, standing on a bare floor, facing a bare wall. Her toes touch its skirting board. Her right hand is raised to the scratched outline of a butterfly on the wall. Her face, which was presumably once visible in profile, has been scratched off the glass-plate negative. I see no reason to infer sinister motives for this. Whoever did it – not necessarily Bellocq – may have wanted to protect the woman’s identity, perhaps at her request. Other ruptures in the image’s integrity are more obviously the work of chance. There’s a jagged splinter in the shape of a knife blade missing in the upper left corner and a faint scratch over the tendon on her right heel. Another scratch accompanies a detached flake of emulsion on her right buttock. It looks like a parody of an eighteenth-century beauty spot.

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