Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nudes In The Lambscape

Note: You really need to read “A Mugging In The Country” first, or this will sound absurd.
So I was mugged in the country whilst in the act of photographing a sheep. But say the sheep I’d been trying to snap had been carrying a camera - had taken a snap of me getting mugged? Why not? Sheep are always being fleeced; they’d be sympathetic to the plight of ‘the mugged’. But would a mugger shot by a sheep (a mug shot?), stand-up as evidence in court? Could that balloon ever really have been caught, even if it were caught-on-camera by a sheep? Switzerland’s a law-abiding land where the cows have bells strapped around their necks; so what’s wrong with sheep, carrying cameras?
Photographs often furnish nourishing evidence, but nourishing evidence of what? Ambiguity can be hard to swallow"

Sheep form flocks: Camera Clubs. Sheep are ‘dipped’ in chemical baths: development. And every Camera Club veteran knows lambing is excellent (staple) photographic subject matter. Where would we be without lambing photographs? Think about it. From Emerson to Brandt to Raymond Moore and Fay Godwin: for a century and a half the cannon of British landscape photography (all city dwellers, I might add) has shot sheep as camera- fodder. Perhaps it’s about time the ‘fodder’ became the photographer.
Yes, but whose tea? As a young child, whose mother I was secretly seeing, once said, “Eating animals is wrong. It spoils their futures”.

Picture a nude of Little Bo-Peep - seen through the eyes of a sheep - legs spread, in a bathtub of sheep-dip, (it wouldn’t require a “Do you want to dip me?” caption). Like that Annie Leibovitz photograph of Whoopi Goldberg, knees akimbo, in a bathtub of milk. It’s doable-dipping just dripping to be done; you’re always coming across old bathtubs in fields where sheep are grazing. Or a shot of Little Bo-Peep and a ram; I’ll leave you to imagine this composition (position?) for yourself.  No, but sheep are natural landscape photographers, black and white lambscape photographers, through and through. Sheep are even equipped with natural lens-caps: you pull the wool over their eyes. Sheep graze, so why shouldn’t sheep gaze? ‘The Gaze of the Sheep: A Self-Portrait in the Lambscape’, (a tome: monochrome images by sheep, gazing, at sheep grazing).
But if the tables were turned - sheep turned their lenses on humans -, say sheep started shooting nudes: would they portray us the way we portray lambs and sheep in photographs; as soft, fluffy, cuddly, lovable pet-like creatures, a million miles from the dinner table? I don’t think so.
Consider this illustration and accompanying text, from, “The Look Of The Lamb: A Young Sheep’s Guide To Nude Photography”.
Lately we have witnessed the birth (lambing) of a new photographic formula for realism in the depiction of the human nude, which we may describe as Cold Cuts (as appose to lamb chops). This formula consists in the presentation of selected tidbits from the human carcass – a breast, an elbow, a bit of buttock: they are simply cuts of meat.” 

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