Barbie by Jansson
I found these photographs taken for Vogue Paris by Swedish photographer, Mikael Jansson. What attracted me to them was how much they reminded me of Barbie dolls. The models (Diana Dondoe and Missy Rayder) appear so casual about being naked it is almost as if that is all they know. Much like Barbie, it seems their own bodies are desexualised and their nakedness is made very secondary. This is why the photography works so well – the product is emphasized through the very casualness of the naked bodies, and in doing so the product has nothing to compete with. Very clever work in my opinion. The models are shinned up to add a lovely glossy sheen to their skin which looks flawlessly beautiful, and very much plastic (hence the Barbie connection). In this first image the poses of the models (especially the one on the left) look rigid, as if the models (dolls) have been positioned manually and are unable to move themselves. And despite the models having beautiful figures, it is not their skinniness or shape that really makes them look like Barbie dolls, but rather how they are positioned, the colour choice, the way the light hits the skin making it shine, and how disconnected to their own bodies they appear. I think it is a wonderful accomplishment from Jansson.
On another note, I found a black and white image (above) from the series which despite being more beautiful (in my eyes), completely loses the doll-like aspect. I find that without the colour, and with the shine diminished, that the models’ human quality returns and they appear as two naked girls hanging by the pool (seductively, of course). So I suppose in this instance colour photography really achieves something that is arguably otherwise unachievable through a black and white image. Normally I prefer black and white photography, so it is great for photographers like Jansson to impress me with the accomplishments of colour.
I totally agree about the last photo. As reading your thoughts I glanced down and thought “ha! not sexual??” I don’t know if it’s the black and white as much as the pose – the model in the background is clearly flexing her back in an arched, very non-Barbie kind of way! Either way, beautiful photography, and so very casual – it definitely has a French vibe.
Yeah that black and white image is very French vibey. And yes, the arch in the back does add that sexuality. I wonder if the photographer chose to change the vibe (by making it black and white) due to the nature of the image. Compared with the first one, the language of the models is quite different. Thanks for your thoughts!