Imagine you have been given a microphone through which you could address the every person in the world simultaneously, and that everyone can understand you. You are allowed to make 3 statements.
What would you say?
Ariana Grow shares her answers:
I’ve been friends with Salt Lake City model Jenny Lee Green for some time now. We’ve discussed doing a shoot together on many occasions, and it finally happened. Jenny’s face is beautiful and well known in the city. Her modeling, dancing, and club presence is well established. It seems to me that every photo of Jenny involves her being topless and barely covering her girly bits. I’ll be the first to say that she does these kinds of photos masterfully. She’s an absolute knockout.
I had a feeling that Jenny has more to offer. We spent a Sunday afternoon and evening in my studio, and cruising around downtown Salt Lake City. We brought a camera, a few outfit changes, and an eye for opportunity. I could not be more pleased at what we found. First and foremost, we produced images for the “Jenny, Jenny (867-5309)” shoot. You can check that out here.
The Salt Lake Bike Taxi has never looked so sexy.
We then moved into the studio…
You see, in life, and particularly in front of a camera, we all have a tendency to put up somewhat of a wall. We peer through cracks in the wall to the outside world, but very rarely do we ever let anyone in, let alone knock the wall down. I asked Jenny how she would feel about taking a few minutes to take a few photographs in which that wall might come down.
She graciously accepted the idea.
When we were doing the photos, I knew we were getting good shots. When I reviewed the proofs after the shoot, I found myself feeling awestruck, and somewhat uncomfortable. I felt like I was in a very private place, one that I really ought not be in. Jenny truly let her guard down.
Jenny, my friend, thank you.
Model: Jenny Lee Green
Test: lyrics, “Jenny (867-5309) by Tommy Tutone
Photography: Paul Duane
This piece was inspired by many things. The catalyst was the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner, by the State of Utah, in the summer of 2010. He was put to death by firing squad (of his own choice). The piece was conceived as a reaction to the firing squad execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010 in Utah. The piece is a gritty satire on the fetish-like fascination society has with revenge killings – veiled in the name of justice and capital punishment.
Here is a video clip of the actual execution chamber used to put Gardner to death:
Our legal system holds people accountable for facilitating, or being an accessory, to a crime. As a society, we say that killing is wrong. It is ironic that our response is to kill the offender… even though killing is wrong. Innocent people are on death row. Innocent people have been executed by mistake. Some may argue that even though the system makes mistakes periodically, the means still justify the ends.
How much innocent blood is retribution worth?
If murder is wrong, then it is wrong. Capital punishment is murder.
– William Shakespeare
These murders are carried out with taxpayer dollars that YOU have paid into the system.
You have helped pay for murder.
You have blood on your hands.
The Blood and Sins of This Generation are on your hands.
Our beautiful victim tells another tale – our culture’s sick relationship with sex and violence.
In many conservative homes across our nation, families protect themselves from “smut”. They don’t allow movies with sex scenes, adult magazines, and they try to control what content is viewed on the internet. Sex, even intimations of sexuality – are shunned. Think of it – sex is the force that brought us all into being, and in most instances, it happens in a context of love and affection. It’s a natural, healthy, beautiful drive that deserves proper respect and rightly beckons our admiration. And yet, we call it “dirty” and shove it away.
In these same homes, families sit around the TV and play violent video games. Watch any number of prime time thrillers, and you will see countless lives ended during a 30 minute episode. How many murders does an American child witness on TV / in movies, by the time they are an adult? It’s incalculable. We even thrill to the site of military planes, tanks, guns, and soldiers. We give toy versions of them to our kids to play with. These are machines that lay slaughter to human lives – and tragically, a huge portion of them, innocent humans lives in foreign lands. You’ve helped pay for these murders, too, fellow tax payer…. the Blood and Sins of This Generation are on your hands.
Our victim has one last thing to say…
and this last part
She knows your secret.
She represents the things that you secretly love –
… but you have given up on finding…
…and so you have decided to hate, and destroy them, instead. instead.
I had the privilege and pleasure of FINALLY shooting my piece de resistance, “The Blood And Sins Of This Generation”. I have not released the final image yet, as I’m still doing some work on it. I did, however post a few behind-the-scenes images on Facebook. I’ve been planning this shoot since last October, and anyone who is close to me has been hearing me ramble about it for MONTHS on end. SO…. I figured that a few out-takes and behind the scenes photos would be fun to share.
I put up several photos, including this one of myself with my model, Amie. Someone reported it to Facebook as “inappropriate”, and it was removed. I now have to sign all of these stupid agreements that I understand the terms of facebook usage, that I agree not to post inappropriate material in the future, etc. What a pain in the ass! At first I was really angry. A few minutes have passed, and I have regained my perspective. Of course it happened. That kind of response is what this shoot was calculated to evoke.
The final piece is layered in symbolism and social commentary. I’ll give you the short of it right now: On the first level, it is a recreation of a firing squad execution, inspired by the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by the state of Utah in 2010. My goal is to create a photograph that is incredibly repulsive, to evoke even a small part of the horror that is the reality of our society’s practice of capital punnishment. To do this, I decided to sexualize it. My decision to sexualize the scene is a satire upon the right wing portion of society’s tolerance, and even fascination with, violence. The naked, sexy girl, of course represents the repressed desires of this same portion of society. The fact that she has been executed is a representation of the way many people must “kill” their desires, because they are unable to come to terms with them in a healthy way.
In summary, I am:
This is a huge milestone for me, for sure, and a wonderful way to start 2011.
I am here to free the slaves.