February 19, 2015

"Seminole Spirit" = "savage swamp mermaid"

Victoria's Secret Photographer, Model Present 'Seminole Spirit' Imagery in NYCAn exhibit of photography that may elicit a variety of reactions in Indian country opens today at Stephan Weiss Studio in New York City. Called "Seminole Spirit," it consists of highly stylized photos taken in the wetlands and swamps of Florida by Australian shooter Russell James, who is most famous for his photography of Victoria's Secret models. A number of the photos feature Victoria's Secret Angel Behati Prinsloo, while others depict landscapes, alligators, and the Seminole people.

The project was undertaken in cooperation with the Seminole Nation of Florida, under the guidance of Chief James Billie and medicine man Bobby Henry.

"I didn't want [Prinsloo] to be representative of the Seminole, of course," James says, according to Gotham Magazine. "But I went to Seminole land and I shot things like the way they build, the way a man holds his hands—all these things [about] Seminole culture. Then I took Behati and created a fantasy character that I call Seminole Spirit. She represents this thing, this movement that I call relevant, modern, cultural, all of these things combined, and that's how Seminole Spirit came about."
The 10 nude photographs of Prinsloo, which represent less than one-third of the material, are bound to grab the most attention. Of the experience, Prinsloo who is currently ranked 15th on the "Money Girls" list at models.com, said that "We painted my body gold as we tried to capture an idea we had of what ‘Seminole Spirit’ is […] I felt like a savage swamp mermaid on Seminole land, crazy."Comment:  A gold-painted savage swamp mermaid? Sounds stereotypical to me.

Talk about your exotic others. Indians as mermaids, fairies, swamp dwellers, savages...this "Seminole Spirit" is a one-woman Peter Pan menagerie. She could star in the next Pirates of the Caribbean as the movie's supernatural monster.

Does photographer Russell James, not to mention Chief Billie, realize that Seminoles are doctors, lawyers, and teachers? Why would you want to reinforce the idea that they're otherworldly creatures who live in a magical world of spirits and demons? That's already what people think, and now they've reinforced the idea.

No comments: