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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

The Photographic Alphabet: D is for Dark and Dangerous

The Photographic Alphabet: D is for Dark and Dangerous

by Liana DeMasi

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Main Hall (Metro Series), 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Main Hall (Metro Series), 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

Today it seems like everything is glamorized. Sex, technology, music, food—even violence. Technology has developed, shows and movies have gained more artistic freedom (which just means we can see more sex scenes, blood, and hear “f*ck” a lot more), and the need to keep a perpetually-jaded audience captivated is at an all-time high. We’ve become so accustomed to gore that we sit on our couches and watch “Sons of Anarchy,” or “Game of Thrones,” somehow rooting for characters that have just bashed someone’s skull in. 

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Yellow Cab (Taxi Series),2004. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Yellow Cab (Taxi Series),2004. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

When did violence become the new black? 

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Phones, 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Phones, 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

Recreating old Los Angeles Police Department crime scene photos and dressing her models in haute couture, Melanie Pullen explores the glamorization of violence and our near immunity to it in her series, “High Fashion Crime Scenes.”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Untitled (Metro Series), 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Untitled (Metro Series), 2005. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 48”, 64” x 48”, 70” x 93”

Each image is equal parts aesthetically haunting and stunning. Images of women tied up in cabs, blood-streaked walls, and dangling, heel-clad feet force us to confront the fact that we obliviously enter areas where dead bodies once were. Similar to the violence on our favorite TV shows, crimes become a normalcy. It’s the same reason we can watch the news and see peaceful protests turn violent, murders, kidnappings, and rapes, and still grab our morning coffee, run out the door and go about our day.

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Fire, 2004. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 54”, 48” x 72”, 72” x 108”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Fire, 2004. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 36” x 54”, 48” x 72”, 72” x 108”

The artist exposes us to images of women dressed in Prada, Chanel and the like, burned, drowned, hanged, or slaughtered, yet so tantalizingly beautiful. Similar to the drivers that stop traffic to watch an accident, you just can’t look away. Pullen demands us to contemplate how quick we are to glamorize violence by doing just that.

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Half Prada, (Hanging Series),2003. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 50” x 33”, 72 x 48”, 93” x 62”

© Melanie Pullen, High Fashion Crime Scenes, Half Prada, (Hanging Series),2003. C-Print and Mixed Media, Plexiglass Face Mount, Edition of 5. 50” x 33”, 72 x 48”, 93” x 62”

© Images courtesy of Melanie Pullen.

© Article by Liana DeMasi.

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