Maiden Voyages: June 2017

After a brief time in exile, Pigtails in Paint is now operating normally with the correct domain names and backups.  Witch hunt is an apt way of describing the struggle that is taking place today, but I am particularly reminded of The Reformation.  The tenor of the angry comments about this site smacked of anti-elitism and using the arts as an excuse to do something sinister.  During The Reformation, many pundits had legitimate complaints about the corruption of the Catholic Church but, in the end, their actions and influence were used to wreak great destruction on fine religious art.  Luther and Erasmus were considered important leaders of this movement but were appalled at the wanton smashing of Madonna statues and destruction of Church property in the name of iconoclasm.  Luther even pled with local princes to put a stop to these demolition gangs but to no avail.  Although there is certainly corruption in the most powerful and established elite institutions, I feel it necessary to point out that truly talented people form natural aristocracies.  Unless they are made to have contempt for their society because of the bad treatment they suffered in their youth, they generally use their talent for the betterment of everyone.  Only those who act on their irrational fear of those with remarkable skill and knowledge tend to push society to its lowest functional state—what might reasonably be called a state of spiritual poverty.

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery: There is a Moldovan photographer Vladimir Timofeev who did a photo shoot imitating Hajime Sawatari’s Alice.  The simulation is remarkable even down to the expression on the girl’s face.  The blogger at Girls’ Portraiture recently featured this artist and included a number of other images from this series.

Walking a Fine Line: Christian has informed me that there is a censorship issue with Google+.  He tried to share Ilona Szwarc’s photograph Desiree, Brooklyn, NY  and it was immediately flagged as inappropriate followed by a message stating that it “may be in violation of our User Content and Conduct Policy”.  They added that “Content that depicts the exploitation or abuse of children, presents children in a sexual manner, or facilitates inappropriate contact with children is not permitted.”  After appealing the decision, a reviewer upheld the decision.  Therefore, Google+ believes that a photograph of a girl in a two-piece swimsuit and holding a doll is considered “child abuse”.  The irony is—and I have heard this complaint many times—there are many “hate” sites and profiles glorifying Nazism or promoting anti-Semitism that have not been removed, despite being reported. Christian adds that Facebook censored the Lehnert & Landrock photograph from Pip’s recent post ‘A Girl and Her Vessel’.

Interestingly, our service provider just did some research, asking a U.K. watchdog group to examine our site for any possible cases of abuse.  We got a clean bill of health on that point but were informed that they have no influence over what individual companies and organizations can censor.  These developments highlight the need for a knowledgeable organization that can make more clear and reasonable definitions that are legally-binding for law enforcement agencies and media service companies.

Little Belly Dancers: I have been informed that in The Ukraine, there are annual festivals where little girls perform this art.  Here are three fine examples on YouTube from the past few events: Anastasia Olkova (2014), Aleksandra Kutsyuk (2016) and Sofia Yavtushenko (2013).

Who’s Number One?  I recently watched Michael Moore’s film Where to Invade Next (2015).  The title is confusing at first until you understand the premise that Moore is traveling to other countries to steal their best ideas for use in the U.S.  Worth noting is his visit to a rural primary school in France.  The children are served what Americans would call gourmet food, served by chefs (no cafeteria lines), and they receive lessons on food etiquette during that time.  They were quite disgusted when Moore showed them pictures of school cafeteria food in the U.S.  Also, sex education is quite frank and without the kind scare tactics that are regular fare in the U.S.  The instructors there found it quite laughable when Moore suggested they should emphasize abstinence.

Crime Dramas: When I was little, I remember watching old television shows with my grandmother.  One show she loved was Quincy, M.E. starring Jack Klugman.  There was an episode that dealt with the topic of child prostitution.  It was interesting to see how the subject was handled in that show versus an episode of the more recent Numb3rs.  It got me to thinking that any long-running crime drama would deal with the subject sooner or later and it would be interesting to analyze changing perceptions over time and in different countries.  I am therefore requesting that any readers familiar with specific episodes that deal with this subject in a television series, please let me know.  The results of my research will be made into a future post.  Simply use the contact form to send me any leads.  -Ron

Having the Time of Her Life: Hajime Sawatari

It may seem a superficial thing to say, but modeling is hard work and photographing models is as well, especially if they are children. On the other hand, many little girls do enjoy getting their hair done, dressing up, playing make believe and generally showing off. Hajime Sawatari’s Alice is an excellent case in point and it happens to be the best example of the tableau I can think of.

Sawatari (沢渡朔) was born in Japan in 1940 and, pursuing his interests, graduated with a degree in photography in 1963. By 1966 he was a freelance photographer working mostly in the fashion industry. Over time, he became more and more entranced by the female form and began documenting his romance with an Italian woman named Nadia. The results of this work garnered Sawatari some critical acclaim. In 1973, he produced Alice which despite its exceptional production quality was not recognized publicly as a masterpiece, most likely because of the nudes of the 6 or 7-year-old girl contained within. Ironically, Sawatari produced a sequel to this work in 1979 called Alice from the Sea using the same model and that did win awards. The little girl, Samantha Gates, would later do other modeling and acting work: most notably (with her brother Stefan) Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy album cover and the film The Water Babies.

It is hard to be sure, but it seems clear the artist was creating an homage to Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), not only because of the Alice motifs, but because he felt it important to show off this beautiful girl in her natural glory. There is also ample evidence that these photos were shot on various estates and other locations in England.  Whatever work difficulties there may have been, I think it fair to say that this little girl had the time of her life. This piece is a kind of swan song for Sawatari as he never did anything quite like it again. Over time he worked with nudes more and more, but they tended to be Japanese and older.

It was hard for me to choose only eight images and I have something to say about all of them. I expect to share some of the others in upcoming thematic posts. Every few pages of the book has an insert of Japanese text taken from the Alice stories to give context and mood to the images.

The artist played with scale by using miniatures as in this shot or over-sized props to create the opposite effect.

hajime-sawatari-shojo-alice-1973-2

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (1)

Sawatari plays around with twin imagery in a few shots using this Alice mannequin.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (2)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (2)

This image of embarking evokes the idea of a magical journey. The girl’s costume and the beautiful train remind me a lot of scenes involving The Hogwarts Express.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (3)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (3)

This is the only image in the book that is a two-page spread. Pip did a nice job cleaning it up so you could appreciate its full impact.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (4)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (4)

This is a wonderful juxtaposition of scale, perfectly suited for this fantasy.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (5)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (5)

Here, she is frolicking with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. There is another image like it in a wooded setting involving the King and Queen of Hearts.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (6)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (6)

This is one of several scenes involving the Tea Party and this is a good one showing the entire table setting and cast of characters.

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (7)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (7)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (8)

Hajime Sawatari – Alice (1973) (8)

[160227] Sawatari’s journal entries from this shoot have been transcribed and translated and will be used for a future post focusing on Gates.  -Ron

Wikipedia: Hajime Sawatari