The last couple of years, Christian has taken to sending me an on-topic holiday card. This year’s card was simply a Renoir reproduction. Thank you Christian and Pigtails in Paint wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday. -Ron
There are a few occasional gems out there but, for the most part, the quality of television programs have generally declined over the years. The use of study groups and electronic surveys have contributed to a mentality of appealing to the lowest common denominator for the most part.
One of my favorite “older” programs is a British series called Yes, Minister (1980, Yes, Prime Minister in the third season). It is about a fictional Minister of Administrative Affairs and his learning about the intrigue of Whitehall power politics. The details are remarkably true-to-life; the producers have really done their homework here. And although this kind of inside knowledge would tend to make one despondent and cynical, the situations create ample fodder for humor.
There is one episode that I felt had to appear on Pigtails. The kissing of babies is an old cliché of politicians pandering to voters hoping to garner some popular appeal. Equally, photo opportunities with children or cute animals works as well. In this regard, Minister Hacker is shameless as he makes a visit to a city farm to once again stand in the public spotlight.
Probably most readers of this blog find babies and children delightful but many people are frank in their dislike. Common complaints are that they are they are sticky, noisy and make a mess of things. In the following scene, we see Minister Hacker competing with a little girl (unidentified) for the camera’s attention.
Of course, another sign of the times is that one no longer sees politicians taking the risk of having strange little girls sit on their lap!
Just clearing up a backlog of archived images here. I have no idea why these particular cards caught Pip’s eye, but it has been well established that images of children sell. On the one hand, their charm is disarming while subconsciously suggesting that these are safe stress-free family destinations.
I reckon that no matter what one’s creative inclinations, one still has to pay the bills. And so artists without independent means must make a compromise that strives to show off their talents while having some kind of commercial appeal. Therefore, it is often difficult to find commercial photographers who have real talent and are not just competent technicians gaming the system. Gunilla Lundström’s photos have a candid charm that nonetheless shows a distinct personality outside the domain of commercial formulae.
This image had an earlier title of Big Feet which perhaps is not as salable as a stock photo whose reproduction rights can now be purchased. I feel the change in title has taken some of the personality away because insecurity about one feature or another is a mainstay of growing up. For those unfamiliar with the more technical aspects of anatomy and physiology you should should be interested to learn that when children begin to grow into their adult dimensions, it is the hands and feet that enlarge first before the more centrally located bones in the body. I expect that many girls have been needlessly self-conscious about their hands and feet until the rest of the body catches up. This image kind of makes a statement by exaggerating this feature.
Lundström has photographed many children and seems to have enjoyed doing so but one little girl in particular stimulated her artistic spirit and became her muse:
I saw her during a photography assignment at a school.
She stood out from the crowd.
Her expression and her energy.
I was curious.
So was she.
Now I can follow her journey through childhood and adolescence.
Her name is Kaya.
I think readers will agree that this girl has real character and Lundström should be commended for finding her and sharing her with us. Take a look at Kaya.
Knowledgeable readers are our saving grace. When so many people reproduce a popular image, it is almost impossible to identify its original source. Fortunately, Arielle happened to recognize this image from a series by Lorna Freytag. It is always risky making assumptions and I figured that the highest resolution image to be found would belong to a site connected somehow to the artist. Well, you know what they say about assumptions! Nonetheless, I am keeping the original text to this post which used to be called ‘Random Images: Child Acting Out’ because it makes some important points including how an image can be twisted to mean something the artist never intended. (That text is in italics below). This girl is not acting out; she was probably having a great time modeling as a “wild child”. This image and others from the series were used in a book titled Wild Child (2012) by Jeanne Willis, Freytag’s first project illustrating a children’s book. It includes a number of intriguing images similar to this one.
Of the dozen or so random images left to me from Pip’s original archive, this one always jumps out at me. I kept putting off publishing this one because it had no identifying information. A little internet research revealed that it came from a Russian site (well, it’s in Cyrillic in any case) called Detki Club in an article about misbehaving children and how to read clues to their acting out. The interesting thing is that it makes an important point about giving a child too many prohibitions. Sure, we ought to supervise and protect them, but it is not our place as grown-ups to control them.
Amusingly, this image has been republished many times on Pinterest with wildly different contexts. There are a number of other interesting images of children on that page as well.
In the early days of advertising, it seemed logical that the product in question should be displayed along with a glowing description of its features setting it apart from its competitors. It certainly led to a lot of voyeuristic fodder but also bittersweet memories of a bygone age of innocence for both children and grownups.
I was recently informed that since about 2000, film directors consistently pay special attention to avoid shots that might accidentally show a flash of panties out of concern over the wrong kind of attention.
It seems like such folly today but, in its day, corsets were considered an acceptable way for girls and women to feel attractive by maintaining their figure. Girl children were often featured in these ads, sometimes in the form of cherubs. Is this some kind of endorsement from heaven? So the manufacturer/retailer would have you believe.
There are many other possibilities for why little girls should appear in such an ad. Perhaps it was a way to indoctrinate the next generation or a cruel taunt about the bygone days of the perfect child-like figure.
It seems one cannot produce and display meaningful art without inciting controversy. Diane Ducruet is a French photographer who shatters the superficiality of the traditional happy-looking family.
At first glance, it looks like everyone in the family is having fun, acting out goofy scenarios for the camera. Well, yes, it’s a family of artists, and each seems comfortable revealing playful, creative poses that are far from ordinary family snapshots. But on closer examination, we see that this extended performance of role-playing and intimate interactions is serious art, and not quite so light and frivolous as it seems at first. -Jim Casper, lensculture
In 2014, this photograph was removed from a gallery exhibition in Paris after seven anonymous letters prompted the gallerist and the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie to censor the work. It was to be featured in an exhibition whose theme was intimacy.
The irony is that the actual complaints were about an image showing Ducruet and her daughter in a portrait, kissing playfully, appearing in a flyer promoting the show. According to Le Monde, the worry was that the image might incite incest or pedophilia, with one letter reportedly coming from an actual victim of incest. Even though the offending photograph was not included in the show, the objections did prompt directors to remove Mother and Daughter II instead.
I still don’t understand how a gallerist and the director of an institution that is supposed to promote artists’ work could have, without even the slightest threat, on simple anonymous requests, and without really knowing my past and current work, decided to remove my work … -Diane Ducruet, rue89
One of the ignored aspects of such controversies is that a discussion that should have taken place about the artist’s intent gets shouted out. I personally would like to know the thought process behind this fractured image.
In 2008, the artist published a book featuring a number of family-themed series including ‘Mother and Daughter’ called Family Games.
The function of a civil resistance is to provoke response and we will continue to provoke until they respond or change the law. They are not in control; we are. -Mohandas K. Gandhi, “The Mahatma”
The Latest Provocation: A couple months ago, our internet host was arrested on charges of hosting child pornography. The culprit is, you guessed it, Pigtails in Paint. He is out on bail but has not been allowed to return home for an extended period on the grounds that the Worcester Police (probably under the direction of the London Metropolitan Police) need to do an extensive forensic examination of his computers. No formal charges have been levelled as the investigation is ongoing and there has been no determination as to whether this will ever go to court.
Fortunately, our host is no shrinking violet and seems eager to have a public airing of the issues. So far, the Police have only identified two images of concern, both by Debbie Dreschler and appearing in Pip’s post ‘Daddy’s Girls and Beautiful Boys: Children’s Sexual Encounters in Graphic Media’. It is likely that concerns over Pigtails came from a vague lead and the Police are engaging in a pointless fishing expedition. Nonetheless, our host is confident he can defend any material in his possession including unsolicited materials sent to him which he agrees should be destroyed and the senders prosecuted). Since there is nothing definite to declare right now, the various sites managed by our host remain working and the Police are not interfering with the day-to-day operations of the sites or sites run by family members.
The sad thing is that Pip was trying to make an important political point and it does need to be made. Although our host was reluctant to remove images from the site (after all, it may be considered evidence tampering), in order to protect others, he (and I, in cooperation) have temporarily blocked them from viewing. However, he made an important point:
Do I have the right to tell Debbie that her work is now child pornography? It probably took her 20 years to drum up the courage to put her feelings down on paper and now 20 years on with the book still freely available some IT technician has decided that he does not like a picture from that book.
Context is everything and that is why it is always necessary to include explanatory text with such controversial materials. Have the Police bothered to read the article? Obviously, it is important that the article remain available for viewing along with the necessary disclaimer.
An interesting twist in this case was revealed during questioning. It appears that the Police are assuming that Pigtails is being run by Graham Ovenden! When the interrogators were told that this was not the case, they shifted their tactics. For the record, Graham and I are friends and neither of us have any reason to be ashamed of that association, but he does not have any editorial involvement with Pigtails in Paint (in fact, Pigtails was in existence before I even knew Graham). Certainly, he does pass on interesting leads that should be shared with the readers and his extensive personal collection has made it possible to share images that might otherwise not see the light of day and I thank him for that.
This revelation has now complicated things for the Police (poor fellows!). From a legal standpoint, taking down Graham’s sites (his personal one and the Garage Press site) would lead to serious repercussions for the police. Those images shown have already been deemed legitimate by Her Majesty’s Courts and since Graham also included material demonstrating police misconduct in his own case, ordering its removal would be construed as tampering with evidence. The assumption that Graham was directly involved with Pigtails seemed like a foot in the door for the Police to somehow get to Graham indirectly. It should be understood that this obsession with Graham is being driven by a handful of desperate individuals trying to protect themselves from pending charges and lawsuits (which, of course, cannot be discussed publicly at this time). Will there ever be a day when the authorities will trust that, in its desire to provoke thought, the editorial staff endeavors to make sensible decisions about what is published and that it is not our business to produce sexual titillation?
So, until I can tell our dear readers more, it happens that someone archived the “offending” page so it can be seen in its entirety by the public. Judge for yourself!
Archival Priority: Although I am confident we will weather this latest drama, we are always at risk of being shut down one way or another. Therefore, I have made it a priority to list artists by name who are on our radar so that readers may investigate them on their own and know what artists we are already aware of. Since this list is enormous, they will be added to the ‘Pipeline: Artists by Name’ page in a certain priority. First of all, artists that we intend to feature soon will be listed. And then from now on, we will list artist leads coming from readers while the slow process of archiving the rest takes place. Artists who already have posts will not be listed unless we intend to do a follow-up post.
Consent, Agency and Justification: A reader passed on this lead of a book (Putney by Sofka Zinovieff) about the intense relationship between a girl and a much older man and the consequences in its aftermath. The scenario will certainly be upsetting for many but, according to reviews, its value is in how it provokes thought.
Readers may have observed that new posts are being completed at a much slower pace lately. There are two major reasons for this: Pip’s career has been taking off recently and he has had little time to compose anything new. But he promises to complete one last post on ‘Sublimated Sexuality’. My relationship with a wonderful woman has been taking most of my time of late and, however noble the cause, I will not be neglecting her in favor of a political agenda. I will continue on in my capacity as administrator and will throw in an occasional post as time permits.
I would like to remind readers that Pigtails in Paint has been a group effort and its continuation does depend partly on the contributions of others. I have tried to encourage other writers, but they usually get busy in their personal lives or careers or are determined to strike out of their own in the genre. I can assure everyone that there are some exciting things in the pipeline and they will be published eventually.
I would also like to thank those who have helped fill in the gaps in our video collection. Next in the works will be an archival list of materials in the Pigtails library as well as a list of artist leads by name. Please continue to send in leads and I promise they will not fall on deaf ears. It just may take a while to get them produced or at least mentioned in a future ‘Maiden Voyages’ post.
Thank you all for your patience and my best wishes go to you as we enter this holiday season. -Ron, Editor-in-Chief