So, for the past week, me and 3 others have been putting together a presentation.
To say it was a challenge would be a little bit of an understatement. The reading was 68 pages long, but luckily for me, I looked at the topic of otherness last term so I had a pretty solid understanding of it already. The title is;
Gender, Gaze, Otherness, & Photography
I looked at Diane Arbus as my photographer because she looks at "the other". Not in the sense of the racial other, which is what we normally see being refereed to as "other", but in the sense of anyone who lives outside of normality.
Diane Arbus was an american photographer who took pictures of “deviant and marginal people or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal”. Most well known as a woman who took photos of freaks, she strongly believed that a camera had the ability to reveal the truth about people even though it could be harsh. She suffered from depression for her whole life and took her own life at the age of 48.
The picture I have chosen which I feel best demonstrates her series is this one of the twins. These twins look nothing like the people you come across on an every day basis, they don’t look “normal”, the strightforward format of her pictures force the viewer to really evaluate the subject. by only looking at the abnormal, she makes us begin to question what the true meaning of normal is. Since the idea of “otherness” is based on a theory of “us and them”, what defines “us” against “them”. She points out the differences between “normal” people and her freaks, turning them into a spectacle and playing on the strong human impulse to stare.
In our own theory, the meaning of the “other” has been redefined from what it used to be. Most visible in the world of celebrity, the new ideal body is not the typical white body. As you can see from the pictures, Kim Kardashian (who many define as having the perfect body) looks very similar to the first picture of the Hottentot Venus, the major differences being that her face is more like that of a white person and her waist if waif-like. Also a typical white ideal. The new “other” is now what we would see as being typically white, for example, being flat chested and pale. Back in colonial times, the ideal body was the typical white body, proving that the sterotypes of ideal change through trans-coding.