Sublimated Sexuality in Modern Surrealist Girl Art, Part 4

This is the fourth post in the Sublimated Sexuality series. You can view the first three posts in this series here, here and here. Let’s get started.

12) Body horror – This is another fairly broad category that covers a lot of these images, and as with several of the categories, there is a good deal of overlap with some of the other categories (for example, the monstrosity, violence and general weirdness categories). At any rate, this category covers physical deformities and mutations, sickness and disease, bruises and wounds, and what I would deem “frankensteined” people and animals—that is, beings who are something other than a full human or a full animal. Sometimes they are animal-human hybrids; other times they are biomechanical monstrosities.

Ana Bagayan – The Experiment

Ana Bagayan (Official Site)

Jackie Skrzynski – Scratch (2003)

Jackie Skrzynski (Official Site)

Jana Brike – Self Portrait with Erected Tail

Squarespace: Jana Brike

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (1)

Cornelia Renz – A Girl Without Hands (2008)

Cornelia Renz (Official Site)

Here there is some overlap with the twins category. Yang Jing’s work often incorporates dolls, which we’ll get to in yet another category.

Yang Jing – We Did Nothing

Ravenel International Art Group: Yang Jing

The following image is perhaps the quintessential example of the thesis of this blog series. The implication in Nicoletta Ceccoli’s Dulcis Agata (Latin for Sweet Agatha) depends partly on how you read this sort of art overall. It also references the next category to be addressed in this post, the presence of food, particularly sweet treats, in these images. Ceccoli often uses cakes and candies in her images to symbolizes childhood, especially girlhood, but there is frequently a sinister undertone to these images, and that is the case here. The title references St. Agatha of Sicily, a girl from a wealthy family who, at age fifteen, refused the sexual advances of a lowborn Roman prefect and was subsequently arrested, tortured and eventually murdered. Among the punishments she supposedly enduring was the cutting off of her breasts.

Here Agatha is presented as a young girl who offers either some sort of dessert drenched in strawberry or cherry sauce, or her own severed breasts. If it is the latter, one can read it in at least two ways. The first is as a feminist allegory in which women are expected to look ever younger for men, and thus a young girl might sever her own breasts to remain child-like in presentation. The second reading is actually not far from the first, and it is that culture desexualizes young girls to keep them pure and holy, by violence if necessary.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Dulcis Agata

Nicoletta Ceccoli (Official Site)

Cristina Vergano – Escorial, Madrid, September 1705

Cristina Vergano (Official Site)

13) The presence of food, especially sweets – Food is sometimes associated with sex, and no food more so than fruit and candy, both of which are sweet. (Refer to my Cherry Ripe! post for some insight into at least one fruit that commonly symbolizes sex or sexual development.) Sweets are also associated with children, which makes the symbolism in these images especially potent. Add in a healthy dose of satire and you have the makings of a clever commentary on the conflicted view of the young girl in modern society.

Hiroyuki Mano – The cake is a lie

DeviantArt: DensenManiya

Ceccoli’s girls generally exist in some sort of dark Candyland.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Barbara

Nicoletta Ceccoli – Consumed by You

Scott G. Brooks – Food Chain (2009)

Scott G Brooks Studios (Official Site)

Rene Lynch – Icons – Honey Dipper (Bee Queen) (2006)

Rene Lynch (Official Site)

Mmm, tasty black soup.

Rieko Sakurai – (Title Unknown)

Artnet: Rieko Sakurai

james-jean-recess_-horse

James Jean – Recess – Horse

James Jean (Official Site)

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (2)

Kokomoo – (Title Unknown) (3)

14) Masks, especially animal masks – Masks are another recurring emblem in this sort of art. Much can be said about masks in art just in general, but with respect to kids, one immediately thinks of Halloween, which is associated with devils and darkness too, and that of course intersects with one of the persistent themes in these images: horror of one sort or another. If we think in terms of sublimating childhood sexuality, these images are not too dissimilar from the human-animal hybrid pieces, only the artists are perhaps more aware of the sublimation and are acknowledging it. Thus, the masks are in essence a reflection of both the artist’s neuroses with regard to children and a sly acknowledgment that there really are human children behind the false faces being offered to the viewer.

Caleb Weintraub – Ashes Ashes Splashes Splashes

Caleb Weintraub (Official Site)

Jana Brike – The Last Dancer in the World

Here Red Riding Hood becomes the wolf. Yet another clever commentary on the nature of girlhood and how it is perceived.

Nicoletta Ceccoli – My Favorite Costume

Nicoletta Ceccoli – A Girl Hides Secrets

Remembering Eva Edit Weinberger

This is an updated version of a post published with the title “After Many Years” in Agapeta on May 4, 2015.

Auschwitz, the best known of all Nazi death camps, was in fact a kind of vast industrial complex of slave labour and extermination. First arose Auschwitz I, the original camp set up for Polish political prisoners, then came Auschwitz II-Birkenau, where approximately 1 million Jews died, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz, a slave labour camp at the service of the I.G. Farben chemical trust, plus 45 satellite subcamps in the surrounding area, where prisoners worked as slaves for various companies such as Krupp (armament) or Siemens-Schuckert (electrical engineering). Even the dead were made as profitable as possible, by collecting their belongings, clothes, and even their hair and golden teeth.

The Nazi Holocaust is a story of greed, plunder, imperialist conquest and elimination of “unwanted” populations, organized methodically by a powerful bureaucracy, and sanctified by an ideology of racial hatred. The most horrible aspect of it is the organized mass murder of children.

On April 21, 2015, Oskar Gröning, a German man born on June 10, 1921 (thus, approaching age 94), was put on trial at Lüneburg Regional Court as an accessory to murder in 300,000 cases during WWII. As an SS-Unterscharführer, he had been stationed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where he worked as bookkeeper.

Among the plaintiffs was Judith Kalman, a Jewish Hungarian-born writer living in Montreal, Canada. On April 29 she delivered a poignant testimony, an abridged version of a longer text that she had prepared. It revolves around the fate of her family, especially of her half-sister she never knew: Eva Edit Weinberger, who at age 6 was gassed at Auschwitz in June 1944, ten years before Judith was born.

Eva Weinberger at age 4

Eva Weinberger at age 4

Her father, Gusztav Weinberger, belonged to a family of educated and secular Jewish farmers; they planted tobacco and distilled grain alcohol in a village in northeastern Hungary. Gusztav had married Mancika Mandula in 1937, and their daughter Eva Edit, nicknamed Evike, was born in April 1938.

Gusztav and Mancika Weinberger with their daughter Eva

Gusztav and Mancika Weinberger with their daughter Eva

He had two younger brothers, Ferenc and Pal. Hungary was then ruled by the pro-fascist regime of Admiral Horthy. Gusztav and Ferenc were called up for forced labour service for the first time in December 1940, and would remain in this position until November 1944, when German troops and their Hungarian allies fled in front of the advance of the Soviet Army. Judith Kalman writes:

Evike had taught herself to read and write by the age of four. Her letters to my father during his labour service are charmingly printed, the words running together without spaces in between but almost all correctly spelled.

Pal had a wife, Meri, and a daughter, Marika, who was of the same age as Eva. Of Eva, Judith Kalman says:

She looked different from us. Her cousin Marika was considered the prettier of the two with her wide round face similar to her father Pal’s and our grandmother’s, in keeping with the soft curves of the Hungarian ideal. […] Evike as she was known by the family, would have more likely grown into the Western proportions of beauty. Her face was a small oval. In one photo she strikes me as a total stranger, looking like no one but herself, delicate in build, and with large eyes alight with quickness.

The Weinberger cousins Marika (L) and Eva (R)

The Weinberger cousins Marika (L) and Eva (R)

I do not share the Hungarian ideal of beauty. To me Eva is more beautiful, and the profound look of her big eyes captivates me. Judith Kalman continues:

In one photo with her mother, they both smile flirtatiously at the photographer. Our father perhaps?

Eva Weinberger with her mother Mancika

Eva Weinberger with her mother Mancika

The third picture on my desk is not one I would have selected. Herr Walther kindly had it enlarged for me and my sister Elaine. In it Evike looks deeply anxious. Her brows are puckered, and she clings to the teddy bear she holds in every photograph. Perhaps the sun is too harsh on her eyes, but it is hard not to imagine that she is gazing at the future.

Eva Weinberger looking anxious

Eva Weinberger looking anxious

Indeed, Germany occupied Hungary at the end of May 1944. Within 57 days, 438,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to the Auschwitz camp, and among them 320,000 were gassed. While Gusztav and Ferenc, as forced labourers, were spared, their family was raided. One day, thirty-four of their relatives and loved ones were packed into a cattle car bound for Auschwitz. Among them were Eva, her mother Mancika, Gusztav’s and Ferenc’s brother Pal, his wife Meri and their daughter Marika, and their parents Kalman and Ilona Weinberger.

In Auschwitz, only healthy young adults were allowed to survive as slave labourers. Children, elderly people, the sick and disabled were immediately sent to the gas chambers. This was the fate of Eva and Marika, as well as of their grandparents Kalman and Ilona Weinberger.

Marika (L) and Eva (R) with their grandparents Ilona and Kalman Weinberger

Marika (L) and Eva (R) with their grandparents Ilona and Kalman Weinberger

Those who were not gassed died of exhaustion, or during the “death march” towards Germany at the end of 1944, when the Nazis tried to empty the camp because of advancing Soviet forces, who liberated its last inmates on January 27, 1945.

Zsuzsa Rochlitz with brother Peter and baby Eva (1938)

Zsuzsa Rochlitz with brother Peter and baby Eva (1938)

Zsuzsa Rochlitz, a cousin of Gusztav, then aged 19, was the only family member caught in that roundup who returned alive after the war. According to Judith, she told that “throughout that hideous journey she never once saw Mancika Mandula Weinberger falter in her reassurance of her six-year-old daughter Evike. Over and over she consoled her calmly.” Zsuzsa herself said to her, “I never met a woman who better epitomized sensitive, intelligent, and respectful mothering than your father’s wife Mancika as she calmed her darling child during that dreadful journey.” Judith adds:

I look again at Herr Walther’s enlargement of the photograph of Evike. She is trying to smile, even as her eyes and brows pull together anxiously. Her lovely high forehead is deeply furrowed. It’s hard for me to look into her face. Each fine new hair in the fringe spilling out of her gathered braids attests to a teeming abundance of the life within her. The silky promise of each strand is as painful to contemplate as the image of this little girl stripped naked, enfolded by the naked flesh that gave birth to her, as together they slide to the floor of the devil’s own bathhouse.

Ferenc went through the westwards “death march” of slave labourers organized by the retreating Nazis, and died in the Flossenburg concentration camp on November 9, 1944. On the other hand Gusztav escaped from forced labour service, and on November 10, 1944, he arrived at the family estate. He found that locals had taken over the family house, and his personal belongings had been thrown out into the street. All that remained from his beloved ones, letters and photos, were lying in the mud in front of his home. He picked up as many as he could stuff into his pockets.

After the war, Gusztav started a new life. He married Anna Swarcz in June 1946, and they had two daughters, Elaine and Eva Judit, born in 1947 and 1954 respectively. The family settled in Budapest. Gusztav abandoned his German-sounding Jewish surname Weinberger, and took his late father’s given name Kalman, which sounded typically Magyar.

Gustav and Anna Kalman with daughters Judith and Elaine (1963)

Gustav and Anna Kalman with daughters Judith and Elaine (1963)

After the failed 1956 revolution, the family emigrated to the West, settling in Canada. They lived in Montreal, where Gusztav eventually died in 1990, leaving a wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren.

Throughout these years, the ghosts of the dead haunted the living. Many holocaust survivors experience feelings of injustice, and even guilt, at the idea that others died while they did not. In particular Judith had to explain herself why she lived and why her half-sister Eva died.

As a child I formed a strange myth to explain the baffling circumstances of my existence. There must have been something wrong about the old, beautiful way of life that my father extolled in his stories of the past. […] The clan had been sophisticated and good. Good. Yet, if so, asked the child-skeptic born to him for life in a different world, why were they all wiped out? A child raised to believe in a beneficent God, but above all, because of her father’s carefully wrought narratives, in a causality that gave shape and meaning to life. Surely, surely something must not have been right with that world for it to have been so brutally eclipsed.

I came up with an answer that makes sense only to a child. For some reason, my sister Elaine and I had to be born. If we were meant to be, then it followed that Evike and her world were not. It was that simple. I could imagine no circumstance which would have allowed all three of us life. My father, a committed family man, would never have divorced Mancika to marry Anna, a younger woman. Nor would he have wished to, even had his path crossed with Anna’s in an alternate universe.

On July 8, 2015, Judith Kalman made a final statement for the trial. On July 15, the Lüneburg Regional Court gave its verdict: Oskar Gröning was found guilty of facilitating mass murder and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. Following a number of unsuccessful appeals against the prison sentence, Gröning died in hospital on March 9, 2018, before he had begun his sentence.

References and sources: I relied on the website of Judith Kalman, in particular the long testimony prepared to give at Gröning’s trial, “Nazi War-Time Trial Testimony.” Time and translation constraints required her to prepare an abridged version to present in court, see “Court Transcript.”

The Auschwitz trial website contains much information on the trial of Gröning, in particular the verdict. It reproduces the testimony given by Judith Kalman on April 29, 2015, “Victim Impact Statement Prepared for the Trial of Oskar Groening,” and her “Final statement for the Trial of Oskar Gröning” on July 8, 2015.

The two sepia photographs, of Zsuzsa Rochlitz with Peter and Eva and of Gustav and Anna Kalman with their two daughters, come from Judith Kalman’s website; I converted their format from PNG to JPEG. The three big photographs, of Eva at age 4, of Gusztav and Mancika with Eva, and of Marika and Eva with their grandparents, come from the article “Ein Leben, aus dem Tod geboren,” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, May 6, 2015. The three other photographs, of Marika and Eva, of Eva with her mother, and of Eva looking anxious, come from the article “Oskar Groening trial: Loss of family I never knew,” BBC, April 29, 2015.

Maiden Voyages: March 2019

That was a short month!

More WordPress Censorship Woes: Many readers of Pigtails are also readers of the Agapeta blog run by Christian. I have been informed that that site has been shut down due to (surprise, surprise) violations of the WP “Terms of Service”. Christian has made an inquiry for more details but is expecting the usual response that the site promotes pedophilia, sexualizes children or contains unacceptable nudity. Fortunately, all the articles (but not necessarily the images) are carefully archived on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. We will keep you informed when Christian makes a more definitive decision on how he wants to proceed. One possibility is that some of the items appropriate for Pigtails may be kept here. Christian has backups of all articles and images so there is not permanent loss of information.

Coming-of-Age Paradigm: An associate located an interesting book quite relevant to Pigtails readers, The Definitive Guide to Girls in Coming of Age Movies 2018 by Carl Wo. According to the author, over 800 films are reviewed including indie films and short films. When I receive my copy, we will find out what gaps exist in our own archive. There certain to be many examples as our index only includes 400+ films of which only a fraction are coming-of-age movies. [Warning: Please take note of the comments below before deciding to spend money on this item.]

Beloved Illustrator of Children’s Books Dies: On February 8th, Tomi Ungerer died in his sleep in his home in Cork, Ireland. Reportedly, his creative energies were active even into his late years and was working on a new collection of short stories when he passed away. Read more details about this remarkable artist on his official website.

It Doesn’t End with Social Media: Amanda from The Samantha Gates Archive informs me that the censorship does not end with companies like Facebook and Instagram. The general consensus about the portrayal of little girls extends even to academic institutions, namely universities and museums. One of the reasons Amanda has managed a bonanza of Samantha material is that institutions are eager to have these items removed from their collections. Not willing to take the extreme measure of destroying the materials outright, at least they have managed to find a home where they will be appreciated.

The Trouble with Gymnasts: It is well-known that whereas men have more strength than women, women are more limber and can show off their virtuosity in doing the splits. The trouble (as you may have guessed) is that some will consider such displays sexual and inappropriate, especially for young girls. The situation is not helped by ambitious coaches trying to get their protegés some media attention by teaching them how to play to the camera in a seductive way. A case in point is this video of Lilliana Ketchman, a talented 6-year-old. I am not saying that this glitzy production is necessarily over the top, but I do think it sufficiently illustrates the way capitalist forces and the concomitant desire for fame needlessly pushes gymnasts toward more sensational and vulgar displays.

Random Scenes: How Art Made the World

It’s a good thing that little girls throughout history manage to play a role in the course of human events. In doing so, they do manage to appear briefly in some of the best documentaries ever produced. In this case, the series in question is How Art Made the World presented by Dr. Nigel Spivey and produced by Mark Hedgecoe. Despite the deceptively mundane title, this documentary distinguishes itself in taking a scientific look at the existence of art and its impact on the human psyche, not just a survey of recent art history.

In the second episode, ‘The Day Pictures Were Born’, the earliest evidence of the human ability to produce two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects is examined. The first of the now-famous painted caves was Altamira in Spain in 1879. Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, a nobleman, was examining the cave floor for artifacts from the prehistoric inhabitants. But it was his daughter, Maria, who first made the actual landmark discovery of the paintings. Accounts differ on whether she was 8 or 9 years old at the time.

(Photographer Unknown) – Maria (1879)

Surely one of the more charming images of post-Industrial history is the little girl tramping behind her scientist father in the course of conducting experiments or field investigations. The producers of the series hired actors (uncredited) to reenact the day’s events.

Mark Hedgecoe et al – How Art Made the World (2005) (1)

Unfortunately for de Sautuola, the significance of the find was not appreciated at the time. The prevailing belief among leading archaeologists was that the people “living” in the caves were savages and could not have produced images of such beauty and evident skill. The assumption was that the nobleman was either the victim or the perpetrator of a hoax. It did not occur to the establishment that such an elaborate hoax in which so many images of an extinct species of oxen would be produced was extremely unlikely. In 1902, when similar caves in the region were discovered, de Sautuola was finally vindicated, but only after he had been dead 14 years.

Mark Hedgecoe et al – How Art Made the World (2005) (2)

A Poetic Piece by Patricia Gutiérrez

Here is an illustration by Patricia Gutiérrez that I stumbled on accidentally while researching another artist entirely. It’s for the poetry book Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree or Tree of Diana) by Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. I can find nothing on the illustrator Patricia Gutiérrez specifically. I thought at first it may be the same artist as Patricia Schnall Gutierrez, but I don’t think it is. Their styles are completely different, and Schnall Gutierrez doesn’t seem to sign her work. There is, however, a wealth of information about Alejandra Pizarnik. I won’t go into the details here but her life was quite tragic, culminating in her eventual suicide at age 36, but not before she published several books of well-regarded poetry which focused on the recurring themes of her life: childhood, loneliness, physical and mental suffering, and death. She also had published a prose essay called “La condesa sangrienta” (“The Bloody Countess”) about Countess Bathory, possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history.

Árbol de Diana was Pizarnik’s fourth book of poetry and her most well-known, partly due to its prologue by another, more highly esteemed Hispanic poet, Octavio Paz, who had befriended Pizarnik during her years in Paris, France. Most of the poems are short and almost elemental in their makeup, but not without dazzling turns of phrase. One poem (in the Yvette Siegert translation) reads:

She leaps, shirt on fire,
from star to star,
from shadow to shadow.
She dies of a distant death
this lover of the wind.

I cannot exactly discern the meaning of the drawing in relation to the poetry. The closest I could come was from this four-line poem:

The little traveler
died explaining her death
wise nostalgic animals
visited her hot body

Could this be our late little traveler, escaping the mortal cage of her body and flying up to heaven with the help of some of those wise nostalgic animals? I think so. I love that she is not entirely nude. She is wearing her coat, her socks and one shoe. Often partial nudity is fetishistic, but here is a case where it isn’t. This, to me, is a metaphor that our young traveler has not entirely relinquished the trappings of her life. She is still attached to the world that she’s left behind and thus not quite a soul washed clean. Perhaps she will get there eventually, but not yet.

Patricia Gutiérrez – Árbol de Diana

Incidentally, you can read the entire book of poems (as translated by Joseph Mulligan and Patricia Rossi) here. It’s not long. You can finish all of it in a few minutes.

 

Ariane Conte

I present today the last painting that I acquired from Carré d’artistes (see my articles on Alexandre Lamotte, Delphine Blais, and Michèle Baron). In April 2016, I bought “Passé présent” (‘Past present’), a 13cm × 13cm mixed media creation by a young French artist, Ariane Conte.

A high-resolution photograph of this work shows the irregularities of the painting on the girl’s face, so I reduced it to a relatively small size:

Ariane Conte - Passé présent

Ariane Conte – Passé présent

Ariane Conte studied graphic arts in Marseille. She lives in the countryside of the Tarn department in southern France. According to her resume in Carré d’artistes:

Ariane likes to think “all things, plants, animals, humans, elements and materials are connected and discuss together.” This conviction is found at the centre of her artistic reflection and practice.

The technique and base that she chooses for each her works are meant to be in coherence and harmony with the subject represented. In particular she recycles various types of materials. As written in her resume:

As such, she “chooses glass etching to talk about the cold, decayed wood to pay homage to the shipwrecked and coloured paper to talk about a child.”

Women and girls are frequent subjects in her works.

I show here her profile photograph from her Facebook page:

(Unknown photographer) – Ariane Conte at work

Her website on Wix (in French) presents her artistic philosophy. It contains also three galleries, a first one with drawings or paintings on wood or canvas, a second one with illustrations on paper, and a third one with volumes (low relief, engraving, sculpture).

Much of her work is reproduced on her Facebook page. She has also been featured on Art Vistar, a French website devoted to presenting artist from the Tarn department.

Maiden Voyages: February 2019

Finally, a little time to take care of some business. This month we have two examples of social media fascism!

Social Media Fascist #1: Facebook has recently blocked images of starving children in the Yemen civil war declaring that the images of malnourished young girls are ‘sexual content’. True to form, Facebook continues to pander to the lowest common denominator of public sensibility. Read more here.

Social Media Fascist #2: As many readers know, Amanda—who has made occasional comments on this site—is in charge of the recently established Samantha Gates Archive. While considering the propriety of publishing some images of a nude Samantha, she posted censored images of the images on her Twitter feed. The “tweet” got reported and summarily removed.

Archive Objective: …And speaking of The Samantha Gates Archive, it is the site’s objective to eventually track down all published images of Samantha for safekeeping and posting. For our readers with Japanese contacts, Amanda is requesting help in tracking down hard copies of a few items that have reportedly published some of the Sawatari images. If you have any productive leads, please contact Amanda through the archive. The items are: Blue BellCamera Everyday Magazine (December 1973) and Ashi’s Life Alice Dream Calendar.

Mystery of the Missing Statue: Not a Hardy Boys mystery title but one from real life. In the Albany [New York] Rural Cemetery there is an installation of statues featuring a family. Missing from the collection is the family’s little girl, Bertha Cleveland. The prime suspect, a serial murderer, confessed to multiple thefts including some from this cemetery. However, he died in 1998 taking the secret of the disposition of the stolen items with him. There are hopes that someone will recognize the statue and come forward with news of its whereabouts.

Gauging the Portrayal of Women (and Girls): Part of the agenda of Pigtails is to bring out the need for a genuine kind of feminism allowing girls and women to speak their real voice. An associate informed me of something he found called the Bechdel Test used as a measure of representation of women in fiction. According to Wikipedia, “Media industry studies indicate that films that pass the test financially outperform those that do not”.

A European Fountain in the Middle of Pittsburgh: Edmond Amateis’ Mellon Park Masterpiece

It’s not literally a European fountain, but there is something distinctly European in the Art Deco fountain Edmond Amateis constructed for Mellon Park, a small park in the Shadyside neighborhood of downtown Pittsburgh. The park was once the grounds of Richard Beatty Mellon‘s estate. Mellon was a wealthy industrialist and banker, whose 65-room mansion was the largest residence in Pittsburgh at the time of its construction.The house was apparently torn down in 1941 (a mere thirty years after its construction), though there seems to be no ready explanation as to why.

Artist Unknown – R. B. Mellon Residence (postcard)

The land was later appropriated by the city and became Mellon Park, now book-ended by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Phipps Garden Center. The fountain, which sits at the western end of the Walled Garden, was built in 1927, six years before Mellon passed away. One of the walls in the Walled Garden (likely the one opposite the fountain) is all that remains of what once was Mellon’s grand home.

Google Maps – Mellon Park (1)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (2)

Google Maps – Mellon Park (3)

As for the fountain, there’s a good reason why it emanates a European sensibility: Amateis’s father, Louis Amateis, was a well-respected sculptor in his own right who had immigrated to America from Italy. Edmond himself was born in Rome, though well after Louis had come to America (so likely during a visit with family). He would later study sculpting at the Académie Julian in Paris and at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City, the latter school specializing in the style of the French École des Beaux-Arts.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (2)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (3)

As one can see from the image below, the fountain is in need of some minor repairs.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (4)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (5)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (6)

I count a total of seven children around the fountain, with only two of them being boys and the remaining five being girls, an unusual choice. I suspect this was because the artist did not want to portray male genitalia (you can see that both boys have their midsections blocked), and there were not many options he could take without repeating himself. Girls did not present the same problem for the sculptor. Whatever the motivation, it’s a delightful choice.

One can see nearly the entirety of the Walled Garden in this next shot.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (7)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (8)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (9)

The eighth side of the octagonal fountain simply has a squirrel instead of a child.

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (10)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (11)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (12)

Edmond Amateis – Fountain (Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (13)

This is not part of the Mellon Park fountain, but it’s a nice little piece using the same Art Deco style, and I decided to toss it in here at the end as a bonus.

Edmond Amateis – A Putto Riding a Dolphin

The M83 Music Video Trilogy – Midnight City, Reunion and Wait.

While some may debate whether music videos can be a form of art I believe that they can be and this is because they are able to have a plot, even though it is within a considerably shorter time frame than a full-length film. Additionally, they can create wonderful images, more so when there is a big budget, which the following videos have. Finally, they do make you think about what is happening or what the visuals and lyrics mean, something that I was doing when watching the third video in this article.

Five music videos have already been mentioned on the Pigtails website and I have decided to add a few more. The following three videos were created by the directors Fleur & Manu with music and lyrics written by M83, more commonly known as Anthony Gonzalez. The videos are of the narrative style and can be watched either as a loosely strung together trilogy or can be viewed as individual, though basic stories. The lyrics that appear in the videos are not related to the videos in any way, though I do recommend listening to them as well. The lyrics for Wait in particular are very moving and after reading the comment section this seems to be a widely-held feeling. Other than being artworks, these videos belong to this website due to the depiction of female children in them.

In the first video, entitled Midnight City, we are introduced to the main characters of the story and what they can do. At the beginning of the video we see a young boy being walked through a classroom full of children. On closer observation the children appear to have telekinetic abilities with one levitating objects while others read minds and distort television signals.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Midnight City’ (2011) (1)

The boy clearly does not want to be there so, using his telepathic abilities, he tells the other children they are going to escape. In the next scene it is now nighttime and the children are standing in front of a door, which they destroy and then run out of the building.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Midnight City’ (2011) (2)

Running through the woods they are chased by some of the scientists, however they escape and by the time morning arrives they have discovered an abandoned warehouse. They enter and proceed to run amok, using their powers to move around objects, the youngest child finds the biggest object there, a caravan, picks it up and throws it into a wall.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Midnight City’ (2011) (3)

They eventually make it onto the roof where they perform their biggest show of power: they make the sun set; this is the final scene and it moves on to the next music video.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Midnight City’ (2011) (4)

While the first video focuses little on the female characters—they are simply individuals within the larger group—in the second video, entitled Reunion, a female child takes the lead role. In this film the story continues and we find out that one individual, a girl, was left behind and she is being controlled by the scientists; it is not revealed whether this control is through intense brainwashing or via the machines that are connected to her.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Reunion’ (2011) (1)

The mind-controlled girl, whom I will refer to as Apollonia, takes possession of the weakest of the runaways and lights her up like a beacon, which simultaneously sends a signal to the scientists control room and reveals the location of the runaway.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Reunion’ (2011) (2)

The scientists send a team of people out to canvas the area where the signal came from to hopefully find them. Meanwhile the children start to run again; one girl tries to stay with the now unconscious female child but is convinced to leave her behind. There is then a chase scene which is limited to only thirty seconds (the full video length is less than five minutes). When the runaways are finally cornered, the boy who encouraged the escape in the first video, tells everyone to stop and fight the chasing car. Unfortunately for the runaways the girl possesses the car driver, which in turn gives him telekinetic abilities. The car driver then gets out of the car, levitates it above himself and throws the car at the runaways. They successfully stop it, however, this now creates a tug-of-war situation with the car hovering between the runaways and driver.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Reunion’ (2011) (3)

The scene also shows that Apollonia’s powers are equal to several of the other children’s abilities, something that is important to know when watching the third video. The escapees win the battle and launch the car back at the driver, crushing the driver and simultaneously breaking the mind control of the other girl. They then enter a church and light themselves up—though you need to watch the third video to find out what is happening.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Reunion’ (2011) (4)

The third video, entitled Wait, is by far the best video and can be watched as a stand-alone story. The highly professional acting continues and as the story is no longer restricted to the city we get to see some impressive cinematography, with large scale landscape scenes; this further enhances the argument that these music videos can be a form of art. As the music video is only five minutes long, the behind-the-scenes video, which is also five minutes long, should be viewed to get further insight into what is happening.

The first minute and twenty seconds of the music video shows where the runaways have gone, they are within futuristic pyramids that are floating in space, therefore they have all survived the previous video.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Wait’ (2011) (1)

Apollonia has been left behind on Earth, which is now in a state of decay. From the behind-the-scenes documentary, we can presume several dozen or maybe hundreds of years have passed since the second music video, although the child has not aged.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Wait’ (2011) (2)

We then get to see the remaining humans fighting each other and there is a large explosion, not caused by the remaining girl as we next see her within an an undamaged landscape dressing herself in a sheet she has just found. Several thousand years pass and Apollonia is shown walking though a desert landscape (good cinematography here) where she catches and saves the last drop of water on Earth, as stated in the behind-the-scenes documentary.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Wait’ (2011) (3)

The documentary also states that the video is about cycles of decay and regeneration and as we are now in regeneration mode the pyramid containing the boy starts travelling back to Earth. The rest of the film show the boy travelling back and crash-landing on the planet while the girl waits for him.

M83, Fleur & Manu – Still from ‘Wait’ (2011) (4)

What isn’t mentioned is how much is natural decay then regeneration or how much is caused by Apollonia, it would be nice to think of her, a young girl, being Mother Nature. Another reason I chose to mention these artworks are because of modern society’s desire to find and display powerful females and with this one possibly destroying then rebuilding an entire planet; it would be hard to find a more powerful creature.
These three singles come from the album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming‘, released by M83 in 2011.

End of Year in Brussels

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (1)

Between Christmas and the New Year I spent a few days in Brussels to see my family and settle some personal matter. In the remaining time I visited some interesting places, such as the Belgian Comic Strip Center or, for earthly pleasures, the Maison Antoine in Place Jourdan, reputed to serve the best Belgian fries in town—or even in the world if one believes the New York Times. I also went to see some statues of little girls.

Most people associate Brussels with the famous Manneken Pis, the 400-year-old statue of a little urinating boy, whose derived products fill tourist shops. Lesser known is his little sister Jeanneke Pis, a half-metre-high bronze statue located in Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang (Fidelity Alley). It was sculpted by Denis-Adrien Debouvrie in 1985 and erected in 1987. It is usually locked behind red bars, so to photograph it I had to put the camera’s lens between two bars. I show first a picture taken without a flash:

Jeanneke Pis

Denis-Adrien Debouvrie – Jeanneke Pis (1985) (1)

Taking a photograph with a flash highlights the bronze colour:

Jeanneke Pis

Denis-Adrien Debouvrie – Jeanneke Pis (1985) (2)

Following the name of the street where the statue lies, the legend says that it symbolises fidelity, so people throw coins in the basin under the pedestal in order to prove their commitment to their loved one.

I went then to the Brussels Park in order to photograph the statue La Fillette à la Coquille (The Little Girl with the Shell) by Alphonse de Tombay. It was sculpted in 1898, then placed in 1901 on the top of a small column above a fountain designed to allow children to drink. Small bronze rings can still be seen near the top of the column, they held drinking cups. Now no water flows anymore from that fountain.

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (2)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (3)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (4)

Alphonse de Tombay - La Fillette à la Coquille

Alphonse de Tombay – La Fillette à la Coquille (1901) (5)

A beautiful photograph of that statue, taken in a sunnier time of the year, can be found on Wikimedia Commons. An alchemical interpretation (in French) of the park and of the statue can be found here.

I am willing to share my full set of photographs in large size (2000×2992) with interested readers.