A SOLO EXHIBITION PRESENTED BY
BUILDING BRIDGES ART EXCHANGE
CURATED BY MARISA CAICHIOLO
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
PREVIEW AND VIP OPENING:
APRIL 20th 2017
SATURDAY, APRIL 22ND 2017
Building Bridges Art Exchange is honored to present Melanie Pullen's solo exhibition A History of Violence.
"A History of Violence, Is dramatizing the aesthetics of early portraiture and battle imagery, creating an extensive series that questions our perceptions and our ingrained desire to glamorize violence." said Pullen.
The historic use of imagery, style, and presentation has been modernized in Violent Times, with the use of saturated films, special lighting techniques, digital processes, and modern printing methods. The effect is a highly stylized and cinematic representation of war that questions the accuracy and reliability of the mass media both current and historic.
Pullen's research was done partially in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institute's archives to construct a foundation of historic photographs and paintings for reference. Using this and other research, Pullen precisely recreated historic battle scenes, fashioned imaginary scenes, and finally worked with actual biochemical warfare weapons in a laboratory to produce this series of life-size soldier portraits that span centuries.
These portraits took over three years to create due to the great attention to detail in the costuming and production. They are Pullen's modern version of the stiffly posed photographs of soldiers who fought in the civil war and paintings of soldiers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She cast over one-hundred male fashion models to pose for both the soldier portraits and the battle scenes. The use of models for painting battle scenes was employed for hundreds of years to glamorize war.
The second portion of the series is comprised of sixteen backlit life-size photographs portraying soldiers acting out their combat poses. These images individually emphasize the glorified figures and bring the stiffly posed soldiers to life, playing up the unimaginable drama that is war. The C-print portion of the series consists of twenty staged battle scenes. Pullen gathered tanks, helicopters, closed down streets in Los Angeles, and for one of the most important images in this portion of the series she worked for six months with the help of a major movie studio to build large sections of the city of Berlin. The post-production on these included several hundred hours of both painting the film by hand and digital manipulation to give them the illusion of timelessness.
And finally, the most colorful and abstract portion of the series, Violent Times, is also the deadliest. This segment of the series depicts microscopic select agents used in biochemical warfare, such as Anthrax. This was an important element as the topic directs the viewers' attention forward into some of the most pressing issues of war today. To capture the six images of these deadly agents, Pullen taught herself how to use vintage microscopic imaging equipment and worked with a very rare film that is no longer available; thus, creating microscopic images with equipment and techniques that have never before been combined.
Pullen's earlier photographic series High Fashion Crimes Scenes, which she worked on for over ten years and exhibited internationally, consists of large-scale color photographs of recreated crime scene images in which she outfitted the "victims" in haute couture. High Fashion Crime Scenes was published in late 2005 by Nazraeli Press and is available in bookstores worldwide.
Project sponsored by: