The Guardian confuses voyeurism and art?

From the mailbag, reader Matt reports that the Guardian published an article about a man who furtively took bad photos of women in bathing suits and drew in their breasts and hips when the photos didn’t turn out so well. The article’s author is so busy sympathizing with the photographer’s inability to get laid that he neglects to so much as mention that the women he photographed may have found his coping method more than a little creepy.

You might be interested in this piece from the Guardian’s website – http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/aug/02/art.photography

Now I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t some sort of elaborate scam, but even making that assumption the article is still somewhat disturbing. There’s a lot of talk about photographic kit, about what may be mental illness (a worrying romanticisation in itself), and about the biographies of various male artists and photographers. But nowhere are the supposed subjects of Miroslav Tichy’s photographs, the women, given more than the most cursory mention.

No mention of stalking, of how creepy it might be to have some furtive, unknown man snatching photos of you, or much sign at all that women are anything more than mysterious objects to be stared at.

One of the most distasteful passages will be a familiar subject to your readers:

“In the summer of 1991, I went to live in Paris for a while. It was blazing hot, I knew almost no one and was in a torment of loneliness and sexual frustration. My apartment was a pit, so I spent the afternoons in the park, looking, hoping, torn between the desire to talk to one of the many women sunbathing and terrified that to do so was a form of harassment. Meanwhile, other men were doing exactly what I wanted to do, sitting down, chatting to women – and not always getting told to shove off. I remember being crushed by the way the simple mathematics of desire refused to come out right: there were so many women in the world, how could it be so difficult to find one? The question contains its answer: it’s that tormenting and beckoning one, the chance in a million that non-mathematicians call love.”

Perhaps naively I’m surprised that in the twenty-first century a liberal newspaper could publish this.

I found the whole article’s tone too retro to qualify as twenty-first century. The quoted paragraph above is from the perspective of the author, not a quote from the photographer. The author identifies with the photographer – two horny guys getting rejected by the gatekeepers of sex. He remembers not being sure whether talking to a woman in a bathing suit would be considered harassment. Clearly, sexual harassment is on his mind, but not as something bad that happens to the harassed – rather, as something that removes courting options from Nice Guys who very, very badly need to get their penises serviced. That, in his mind, is the tragedy.

Comments

  1. says

    Gosh, how awful it must be to be a man and not get the lovin’ you so richly deserve. That’s what this is all about, I know.

    If only those evil women would be able to intuit his interest, this never would have happened! Because once a woman realises a man is interested, she must – MUST! – be drawn to him and submit herself graciously to his whims.

    I know this because I have watched movies.

  2. Patrick says

    Yes, and if she doesm’t realize it, then all he has to do is invade her lfie continuously until she does. And that’s so romantic. (/sarcasm)

    A few years ago I was worried that I might be a Nice Guy, but after reading up on it was relieved to realize that I am a very different breed – such, y’know, being nice to everyone, not just women that I want to sleep with, or the fact that after a girl broke my heart in college I left her alone.

    Women aren’t people to these guys. They are either mysterious gatekeepers of sex, or the women who they aren’t attracted to, who not only aren’t people but don’t even exist.

  3. blue epiphany says

    Wow, that article was a steaming pile of crap. My favorite part is where the author talks about the fence you can see in some pics between the photographer, Tichy, and the women he stalked and photographed. This is at the public pool. Dyer says Tichy is looking through metaphorical prison bars when he looks through the fence, (the fence “imparts to the pictures the intensity of a prisoner peering through the bars of a cell”) totally missing that a fence around a pool is to KEEP PEOPLE LIKE TICHY OUT. Because women DON’T LIKE BEING HARASSED BY PERVERTS.

  4. Scarlett says

    I started writing something then realised I was so riled up about how many photographers have confused ‘freedom of speech’ with ‘freedom to do what I please’ that I don’t know what to say other then there’s such things as ethics. You know, in your heart, when you can photograph someone and when you can’t. And if you don’t, you sholudn’t be a journalist, photojournalist, artist, photographer, whatever the hell you want to call yourself,you should never be allowed to take pen to paper or click the big silver button*.

    *Sorry if there are any credible photographers here, but while on tour, we collectively realised that all basic digital cameras are the same, it doesn’t matter who else’s you’re handling, you always click on the big silver button.

  5. Jen says

    I actually saw an exhibition of this artist in Chelsea, New York! (this is weird cos I’m from the UK and it’s the only time I’ve been to the US)
    It wasn’t really ‘disturbing’ or even very controversial to me because it was in an art gallery and so, like art in most galleries it was totally sterilised by its context.
    Also, images of women from a voyeuristic male perspective are nothing new in art, but it *is* art, as soon as something is considered by someone to be art, it’s art… or some argue, as soon as the artist considers it to be art it’s art… art is in the eye of the beholder, if you will.
    I wonder what the same critic would say to the work of a female artist who captured her (secret? dirty? shameful?) desire on film? Female desire being a topic which actually HASN’T been done to death. hehehe

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