Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a mirror-lined nursery

While most internet wags are spoofing or critiquing the upcoming April cover of Vogue magazine, featuring Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, another photo, released from the shoot, taken by Annie Leibovitz, has caught my eye. It is a pseudo-candid taken in their baby girl North's nursery, with both mama and papa unable to pry themselves away from digital camera screens.

There is so much to ponder in this photo.

Wall-to-wall white and mirrors for a baby's room?

One tweet that has gone viral posed the question — why isn't Kanye reflected in any of the many floor-to-ceiling mirrors? Is he a vampire? It's impossible to tell from all of the artificial lighting what time of day it really is in the photo.

The baby is cute.

This photo and its screens within screens make me think of these paintings by Diego Velázquez:

Diego Velázquez,  "Rokeby Venus [Venus at her Mirror]," c. 1647–51, National Gallery, London.
Diego Velázquez, "Las Meninas [The Maids of Honour]," 1656, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

Vogue (and America) celebrates celebrity and wealth, and this picture is just an illustration, maybe the ultimate representation, of that. What bothers me the most, however, is the complete absence of joy in the photo. Velázquez, in "Las Meninas," may look a little burnt-out, but there is life and action in his depiction of the Spanish royal family. His "Rokeby Venus" may be vain, but Cupid loves her, and she seems comfortable and happy. Why are Kim and Kanye, in their Givenchy fox stole and Balmain tee, so somber and serious? Life at the top seems closed off and not too much fun, with too many screens and other reflective surfaces.


Post a Comment