Round Nine: Visibility

Jen Mann vs. Jen Mann

So for this months This vs. That, I am doing something a little different. I have been going through my images and I couldn’t find anything I wanted to discuss, or any pieces that had obvious connections. I felt quite stumped, but knew I had to come up with something today (I’m already technically a day late for This vs. That – although I’m sure you hardly even noticed!). So rather than comparing two artists, I am comparing two approaches to a piece by one artist, the lovely Jen Mann. I saved the first piece one time and then saw that she must have edited it into the second piece. I don’t think the first piece exists anymore, so luckily I had downloaded a copy before it changed. This now allows for my slightly strange This vs. That.


What I like about the first image:

I like that the woman look so similar. I think they appear as twins, or even the same person appearing twice. The face of each woman is kind of murky, and appears darker in tone from the rest of the body. This portrays a more accurate idea of a woman, whose skin that is normally covered (breasts, torso, upper thigh) is a lighter tone than the ever exposed face. I like the wallpaper because it contrasts with the women. The wallpaper is feminine, whereas the females on the bed are quite androgynous. Their figures also appear to be a little bit skewed in my opinion. The head looks too big, or the neck too thick, or something that makes them look almost dwarf-like. In this regard, the image reminds me of Diane Arbus – a kind of ‘freak’ aspect emerges with the body dimensions and the twin look of the women. They are also naked next to each other, so this is unusual and further connects to Arbus for me. While this image is quite fascinating, and has been interesting to write about, I do not particularly enjoy it from a purely aesthetic view-point. An interesting piece, but not one I would hang in my house.


What I like about the second image:

The second image is obviously the first image with a wash over the top. This has dramatically skewed the prior visibility of the piece. Why did Mann do this? And what does it achieve? I believe it makes the piece more aesthetically pleasing, and more in line with Mann’s other work. She has also added suggestions of a tree which makes it seem a little more organic or natural in terms of the title of the piece (Flora and Fauna). The wallpaper is lost, but floral aspects are suggested on the head and neck of the women. The piece certainly becomes more abstract. It is less erotic than it was before. It is less strange, less Arbus. But to me I still think the piece lacks something. I am drawn to the kneeling woman, whose face has acquired much more beauty (kind of reminds me of Jennifer Garner). The second woman is still quite masculine facially, which sets up a slight contrast between the figures, and removes them from looking like twins. They just look like two women here. I can probably understand that Mann wanted to edit her original piece, but I am not entirely convinced that this has been the best way to do that. I really love some parts of the image now, but other aspects feel incomplete. Perhaps if the second woman had been completely erased, or appeared only ever so slightly, the image would have more of a focal point, and more ghostly nature. But for me, at the moment it doesn’t quite work.


Well, obviously I will crown Jen Mann the winner! But out of the pieces I guess I will have to go with the first one. This seems a little unexpected, as I don’t really enjoy the piece too much, but it is more complete and the references to Diane Arbus (whom I one wrote a kick-ass essay on, so perhaps she holds a little place in my heart) make it the winner. But it is close, and hard to know. Does one pick aesthetics (which I normally always prefer) or concept? Today, concept gets the win.

Do you agree? Let me know which piece you would crown winner.

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