Classic Melanie Pullen
September 27 - October 30, 2016
Melanie Pullen’s acclaimed series “High Fashion Crime Scenes” (1995-2005) is based on vintage crime scene photographs from the Los Angeles Police Department archives, the County Coroner’s Office, and other primary source documents. She was initially inspired by the subject of Luc Santé’s 1992 book, Evidence: crime scene photographs from the New York Police Department’s archives. In a return to early, less clinical methods of crime scene photography, Pullen revisits the artistic sensibilities once applied to composition, lighting, and drama; she constructs a narrative with each image. Pullen creates elaborate crime scenes of her own – where the “victims” are not anonymous bodies, but young, striking models adorned in haute couture. She draws up complex storyboards that utilize professional makeup, fashion, set design, and stunt-acting to divert from the inherent violence within the photograph. “High Fashion Crime Scenes” harnesses fashion’s power to disguise and distract, prompting the viewer to focus on anything but the crime itself.
Included in the exhibition are two new works from 2016’s “The Haunted Series.” Focusing this time on the moments before violent events, these works further unsettle the viewer by presenting underage subjects, whose stories are based on real-life events. They tap more deeply into the unfortunate realities that glamorous fashion shots so often cover up.