Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Of Angels and Insects

Nero was digging through the depths of a cupboard the other day when I came across a dogeared portfolio of some of my early editorial work. Towards the back, behind the legitimately published articles and fashion shoots, was stashed a misfit mock-up my brother and I had rigged on a whim at the kitchen table. 
At the time, about thirteen years ago, Nero was dabbling in International Studies and contributing editing, with a dollop of costume jewelry design on the side, and my brother, still a high school student, had already gained recognition for an elaborate photo installation at Houston's Fotofest. 
The practice spread below, titled "Angels and Insects," entailed us monkeying around with a few baubles I had put together, some made up of vintage pieces, others channeling a sort of riff on the macabre, with kilt pins strategically placed at the jugular and on the wrist. 
I don't quite recall how the shots came together, except that it was all very quickly improvised. Some white cardboard was deployed over the glass table and used as a backdrop, and each vignette was put together with objects lying around.
Clearly the result is pretty sophomoric -- bizarre, profane, kids' kitchen table antics. But the photos themselves are large, grainy and quite beautiful, and it is always strange to look back at something that stemmed from nothing and has sat untouched for a spell. A constant reminder that while we change and age, the follies of our overzealous youth sit in wait, collecting dust.

This first shot, dubbed "Justine," was a nod to the Marquis de Sade and the movie "Quills," which obviously made an impression on my post-pubescent psyche. We taped bits of paper to a preexisting wooden sculpture to create the impression of a bust, then did an ink splatter effect to suggest some sort of exsanguination -- we were young, it felt highbrow and deeply relevant, folks. The necklace was a two piece deal -- a crimson Bohemian crystal choker that held the pin taut against the skin, then a second triple strand that fell in a tiered waterfall.

This one was called "Flushed." A vintage porcelain cameo piercing a fine metallic mesh choker, which at first glance looks like ribbon but is actually malleable, and can be bent and molded to create a wrinkled or flyaway bow effect. It felt very modern Marie Antoinette in the moment. 

Here, "Hangover," was simply a case of a brown, raw leather wraparound cuff. Secured onto it, a bejeweled cabochon turtle walked his way to nowhere on the wearer's wrist. The potted orchid was faux, btw, and where we scrounged up fertilized dirt to use as a prop in a second story apartment is beyond Nero's powers of recollection. 

We created two variations of this shot. Above is "Overboard." The crystal mermaid pin was a souvenir bibelot I had bought on Spring Break in Hawaii as a fifth grader. The chain was a simple gold necklace with a small diamond inset. The gold hook was meant to be worn as an earring, with the mermaid pinned to a lapel. 

Though my brother and I loved the optical illusion of the disappearing champagne-slash-apple cider coupe in the first snap, this second version -- "Hooked" -- was ultimately our favorite. It felt less Goldie Hawn, more Castaway. 

Last up in this strange menagerie, gold-toned safety pins and crystal facets on a pastel bracelet and choker evoke a Donald and Ivana Trump-ed up diaper in "Nappy." So the mashed banana may have been a bit forced, but what still eats Nero is why on earth our parents had chocolate-doused teddy bear cookies in the pantry with two grown kids in the house. 


The Bonny Bard said...

I had to go back and forth a few times before I figured out which shot was my favorite... I think the first one, it's both crisp and hazy somehow. It's awesome to see things the two of you actually worked on together!!

Raina Cox said...

I love you for the "Overboard" reference.

Anonymous said...

I will miss your fun slant on all things here and Cairo. Adios, and best of luck to you and yours,


Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Many thanks Anon,

So kind of you to say and to have stayed ;)

Cheers, Alcira

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Urban flâneuse, armchair observer, absent-minded scribbler, occasional epicure and carpool line cultural attaché, my nom de plume is Nero. Join me as I catalog a compilation of earthly delights and stuff that I dig. Alcira Molina-Ali



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