Giangiacomo Pepe – Untitled (2013)
Much of this rocks my socks: it’s shot on film, contains explicit nudity and the model is my ‘type’ to a T–thin with small breasts and geeky glasses; for good measure: throw in my permanent association of watermelons wjth Tsai Ming-liang’s brilliant (screw the critics) and perverse The Wayward Cloud.
There are at least two things about it that bother me, however. I don’t want to bring the body hair fetishism fire down, so let me start by saying: when it comes to body hair I believe–without equivocation– your body, your rules.
The trouble is due to the ubiquity of utterly depilated female bodies, undue cultural pressure against body hair exists and by existing it makes it more of a struggle to go your own way.
There’s the matter of her amputated legs, too. (Such is never justified–especially in the context of images featuring full-frontal nudity–but at least there is a compositional sense to it–her navel marks the center of the frame, the upper frame edge just misses her raised forearm and the concrete door jamb running along the second vertical third.)
I feel compelled to compare/contrast Pepe’s work Lina Scheynius, Igor Mukhin and Ren Hang. Yes, there’s extensive variations in styles, themes and tone: Scheynius is playful, Mukhin, insular and unflinching and Hang walks a fine line between confronting taboos and centering them on his audience.
In a similar vein, Pepe leads with his fetishizing of the female body.
The feels such fetishizing gives me are a complicated knot I’ve been wrestling to unravel for more than half a decade.