[See the photographs]
Some time ago, I attended the Annenberg Space for Photography's exhibition, Beauty CULTure, in Los Angeles, a city and culture known for beautiful women, whether real or enhanced. The exhibition got me thinking about the work of André França, a Brazilian photographer, who has created a project titled Vanishing. His images at first glance are disturbing—images of women seemingly tossed aside, traumatized and neutralized, left without protection and identification. At the same time, there is a beauty to these totems, frozen in time and vanishing from sight.
As a female, I interpret his work in a variety of ways. For me, it's about loss, about becoming invisible, about our youth centric culture and the desire to turn back time. As a child, these dolls were templates for my future womanhood, offering me fashion and beauty ideals, and looking at André’s images, I feel like these totems are fading, frozen in time and inaccessible to future interaction, as if it is time to move away from those impossible-to-achieve symbols for perfection.
But, more importantly, the work also reminds me those who were lost to neglect, abuse and murder. The work is a powerful statement about the lack of reverence for women around the globe. The photographs reveal women simply objects to be discarded and dismissed, nameless and faceless, turned away and face down. His work provokes an important conversation about power, sex, and control.
I bring all these interpretations to the work because André doesn't have a statement for this project, as he prefers to have the viewer bring their own reactions to the work. Vanishing makes me long for a heatwave, for a melting and releasing of these trapped souls, but they also make me want to work harder to protect and honor women who have no voice.
* Aline Smithson