If you haven’t seen this graven image before, you may not recognize who its subject is. Regardless of the skill of the sculptor, your gaze probably wasn’t grabbed by the figure’s face. That doesn’t seem to be the intended object for our attention. Maybe the contortionistic yoga pose registered first, or perhaps you see visions of dollar signs when you read that the life-size statue is 18 carat gold. Then again, your eyes may have frozen in place. Down there. What, we might wonder, did artist Marc Quinn want us to notice? That this is modeled after supermodel Kate Moss?
According to his website, Quinn’s work often deals with “the distanced relationship we have with our bodies.” As we yogis know, yoga seeks to bridge that gap, too. But yoga hardly seems the raison d’etre of this sculpture, which is titled Siren. The work from 2008 raises as many questions as it might eyebrows. Commodities seem to be more at issue, those of celebrity, gold, and the lure of sex.
Sex as a lure in yoga ads is old news. The objectification of women to sell stuff spans cultures, epochs, and media. What’s the problem? If you fall for a certain tagline on venerable Frederick’s of Hollywood website, “enticing beauty and exciting lingerie” are ”What a Girl Wants.” And damned if yoga isn’t sexy. Sure it is, I Googled “sexy yoga” and it’s right there on Youtube.
When does “cute” and “pretty” become sexy, and when does sexy become prurient?
I just grabbed the above image from an image search, key words, “Forever 21.” Yes, it is a photo of sexy, perhaps even exciting, lingerie. Photo of lingerie being the operative word. No model. Just the merchandise. Now, I invite you to compare this depiction of a pair of Forever 21 underpants with those exposed on Huffington Post by Rachel Kane. Similar merchandise, this time with models. Even Facebook took exception:
I bring this back to yoga by way of a photo link sent to me by Yoga Modern Editor in Chief David Sunshine. I look at this photo, and wonder: What exactly is the merchandise? It’s a beautiful yoga pose, but I ask:
Why did the photographer choose this particular angle to sell a necklace?
So, what is your response to:
- Exhibit A, Our “cover shot” of a golden Kate Moss as King Tut-cum-yogini
- Exhibit B, Tiny Devotion’s (a sweet company, by the way) modeling of mala beads
- Exhibit C, Forever 21′s “Crotch shots too sexy for Facebook”