Monday, October 5, 2009

movie stars and torn dreams

This is another act of homage shamelessly derivative of the exhibits on show in the Met's Surface Tensions exhibitions - I'm referencing Walker Evans's "Torn movie poster, Oak Bluffs" - I can't find an image on line to link to, but this depicts a man and a woman movie star on a hoarding, the paper ripped and scarred as if their faces have been angrily mutilated. Evans cropped the faces down very close, as if the frame of the photograph was itself doing violence to what was already a highly stylized photograph: the medium consuming itself.

I tried doing that with these two images, but it didn't quite work (unlike various images I've taken of layers of old posters, ripped through, on London Underground platforms, none of which have, oddly, made it into this blog. There's still a few months to go...I'll see what I can do...). Rather, these two images - spray-stencils, originally, I guess, and then transferred to stickers - are floating free, albeit with a few half-erased arrows pointing to them and a couple of attached vaguely fatuous comments. I'm not sure who they are - the one on the left is faintly Marilyn Monroe, but maybe not - it could be Diana Dors and Rudolph Valentino, or... (please supply identification - I think I am challenged when it comes to recognizing movie stars). But why are they stuck to the back of a women's bathroom door in Murray? I don't usually head into there (although today, mercifully, there wasn't anyone weeping noisily in the next cubicle, which usually happens, and is always upsetting), since Faculty are Privileged and have their Own Bathroom. But I didn't have the magic key for that on me - and was rewarded by these forced attempts at cheerfulness, the guy gazing straight at the cubicle's occupant with a naive hungry inquisitiveness; the blonde tilting her head up at him - but I think he's a lost cause, for whatever reason. Their physical separation on the door - let alone the jagged tears - promises no resolution of their drama.


  1. At some point during the summer, that bathroom stall was cleaned up a bit, but it used to be covered with postsecret-esque graffiti and full on conversations about anything and everything... on the stall door there were some words of advice for women struggling with eating disorders, and to the right there was a conversation about the selfishness of humanity, and underneath that there was the requisite "I love ____ always & forever" posting. I guess someone had a difficult time scraping off those stickers, possibly because, as I believe one of the arrows suggests, "they're meant to be."

    If you're looking for really interesting graffiti, though, I recommend the men's bathroom downstairs in Murray... there's a religious debate going on in one of the stalls that seems to be attracting attention.

  2. One guy last semester - I forget who, alas - did a photo-doc on the graffiti in a men's bathroom on Douglass and its (intended or otherwise) relationship to philosophy. It sounds as though the intellectual level in what in England used to be called the Gents (public restroom were labelled Gentlemen and Ladies - how classy!) is surprisingly high...
    I couldn't comfortably get any further back (!) to get in all the captions with the camera that I had with me...and, strangely, didn't have a notebook, either...