Saturday, January 26, 2013

Romain Slocombe - Broken Dolls

Romain Slocombe is a French cartoonist, photographer, painter and filmmaker who is, fairly well known in Tokyo and also in, France as the "Medical Artist." He takes, pictures of young Japanese women wearing, bandages, slings, eye patches, splints, Band-Aids and various wrappings of white, gauze. It is a fetish that is both, comforting--the white, clean, fluffy, soft, bandages are a sign of love and healing--, and ominous, as the bandages suggest, injury, accident and the wound--, particularly, as a Freudian might point, out, the most serious wound of all, the, dreadful imaginary wound that is always, the source of the fetish.


Slocombe got the appellation "medical, artist" in 1983 after publishing a, compilation of works by various artists all, related to medical subjects--a book called, Medical Art. It was an immediate hit in, Japan and is now quite rare. Later he made, paintings of bruised and injured Japanese, girls wearing bandages, some of which he, included in a booklet called Sad Holidays., The book tells the story of 15 Japanese, girls who have a bus accident just as they, begin a holiday in France and must spend, their vacation in the hospital. He is an, accomplished cartoonist as well; his first, comic book was called Prisoner of the Red, Army (1978) and he was a member of the, group around the magazine Metal Hurlant.

The photos are interspersed with parts of an interview from artnet



Q. Lately in New York there's been much, talk about what Hal Foster has called, "Trauma Culture," referring to a range of, things from Oprah to the photographer Nan, Goldin, all involving the relation of pain, to ideas of authentic subjectivity.

A. In my work I think it is something else, an authenticity that comes from a time when, you were a child, because when a child, plays games, pretends to be something else, dresses up and all that, it's their inner, self that is having fun. And I think that, when a girl enters that little game and, disguises herself in that childlike way--, we've all played doctor and nurse and, things like that, pretending to be injured, when we were kids--maybe the model goes, backwards, regressed, in a sort of time, travel that releases another sort of, authenticity....And besides, there is no, real pain. It's a all a game. Which allows, them to relax more.

Q. It's more erotic.

A. And there's something reassuring about, the bandages, they like being wrapped up, It's like when a women applies makeup, it, makes them feel reassured. 




Q: Perhaps you're work represents the clash, between the French and the Indochinese, culture?

 A: I think if it's symbolic at all it's a, visual symbol, the injured person, when you, walk in the street, even if you're not, interested in bandages from a fetish point, of view, the eye is obviously attracted by, someone who is walking on crutches or has, an arm in a sling, the white is very, strong. People always look at people who, are injured in a certain way. The injured, person had an accident, she is already, separated, that person is separated from, reality and there's an aura around that, person....For me of course it's a fetish, I, would be immediately attracted if there, were a girl with a bandage in the street., My bandages are a bit exaggerated like, in a movie when you see someone has been, injured the bandages are exaggerated, in, Japan particularly so, maybe because the, Japanese like people to wear the costume, that is really proper to the situation. So, Japanese in movies if someone is, injured in the hospital you can be sure, that the bandage will be enormous., So my girls are maybe movie patients rather, than real patients. My doctor friend who, makes the casts for me says that on the, contrary to make people feel better they, reduce the bandage very quickly so that the, person thinks that he is really improving, very fast...my bandages are really big and, inconvenient and bandage-like...and, that's what I like. 

Myself as a fetishist, I'm satisfied if the model really looks, like an injured person., Some people misunderstand and think that, I'm excited if the model is in pain or that, there must be some horrible scars, underneath but it's not that at all. I'm, more interested in the wrapping, in the, visual, in the outside aspect, rather than, what might be on the inside. The, vulnerability and weakness also, that's why, I called my book Broken Dolls. It does, enhance the femininity of the model. I find, it makes them really beautiful. Some people, misunderstand me completely, people will, say this is antiwomen he must hate women., To the contrary, I love them, not only as a, male but as a person, a friend and a fellow, human being. I admire their beauty, I envy, them, being so beautiful. So in fact it's, just for me a way of enhancing the women. 

                        

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