Picture analysis – The Conversation

Group portrait of seven women in what appears to be Indian style dress. Split into two groups there does appear to be a conversation happening among one group. The facial expressions in one group suggests they are listening to the conversation while the others seem seperated and distant, bored even.

michael-bühler-rose-the-conversation,-alachua,-fl.-(from-constructing-the-exotic)

The postures seem rather mixed to me – some seem natural, relaxed listening to a chat. Others seem posed, hand on hips etc. The clothing does seem to be rather ‘exotic’ and would suggest an India/ Asian situation. However the skin colour, features of the women involved seems to suggest otherwise. The location could really be anywhere. The colouring of the location and the photo in general is rather subdued for an indian image, but this could be the print, or even an overcast day, so I would be reluctant to say anything with great certainty about the locations.

Clearly the dress would lead us to think this is an Indian/ Asian set-up. Its interesting in relation to the dress that they are pretty much all the same colour, so it could be that they are some group of dancers for example.

The woman appear not to be Asian, so this would suggest something in the ‘wrong place’. There appears to only one woman of a non-caucasion ethinicity. The clothes are typically traditional but the building appears quite contemporary. Also the woman’s costume, and make-up seems new, ‘dressed-up’, in contrast to the surroundings which are rather run down – paint peeling etc.

The photo does seem very posed and stylized. With the ‘models’ seeming incongruous with their ‘costume’, this adds to the posed feeling. The hands raised and grouping reminded me of Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. The woman standing on the stairs and the woman standing at the bottom of the stairs seem most uncomfortable and posed – the least natural.

The image does seem constructed, but not especially exotic. It seemed to me like some bhangra dance group that do parties having a fag break outside the back of a church hall. They seem bored and simply killing time. I guess the question is whether the world or western world would these woman quite so ‘exotic’ wearing Indian-subcontinent outfits if they were just hanging around every day scenes.

The woman do look western. They look contemporary. They look false, however they do generally look relaxed.

I am a fan of constructed images in general and have no problem with a constructed reality. I also generally like the juxtopision of people and place. The larger constructed shots such as The Conversation and The Secret do seem more successful to me. The closer up images seem more like uncomfortable magazine work. It looks as if some designer was inspired by indian-wear but didn’t get Asian models, instead just putting white woman in the clothing. How anyone feels about that is up to them, but it doesn’t make images such as ‘Nadia’ anymore interesting. I think I would have prefered a greater juxtopision.

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