Capitalised Fetish

2005, video and photographic installation.

Untitled and www.russianbrides.com make up Capitalized Fetish.

www.russianbrides.com is to be placed on the wall facing the viewer as they approach the installation. Untitled plays on a colour monitor sitting on a plinth at shoulder height, facing www.russianbrides.com so the viewer will discover the video piece after engaging with the collection of Russian blondes.

Capitalised Fetish, installation view
Capitalised Fetish, installation view

Untitled, a video piece of a man running his hands through a head of blond hair is a response to male perception of passive sexual availability of blonde woman. The hands are very obviously an older man’s; the head of hair a younger woman’s, the woman is completely passive to the hands giving this piece a strong sexual possessive feeling.

Untitled, video still
Untitled, video still

Christian Metz in his essay Photography and Fetish states that ‘film is more capable of playing on fetishism, photography more capable of itself becoming a fetish.[1]’ Untitled very succinctly depicts a fetish with blonde hair. To build on this feeling of obsession with blonde hair I started collecting stills of blonde woman, mainly from the internet, which lead to a goldmine of blonde Russian brides, hundreds are available online with pictures and physical descriptions; a voyeurs dream.

The resulting piece, www.russianbrides.com, is made up of 202 photographs of blonde Russian woman who are looking for love on the internet. All the sites these women appear on require a fee to be paid before the client can contact a woman they are interested in, this is modern day woman as commodity.

www.russianbrides.com

Looking at the resulting collection of Russian brides there is a distinct feeling of voyeurism. While collecting the images people around me, particularly the men, were fascinated and seemed almost relieved to have a legitimate reason to look at these women. However after a while they all start to look the same, passive female commodity.

[1] Metz, Christian, Photography and Fetish, in Carol Squiers, The Critical Image, p. 164

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