SEASIDE SIGH by Jessie Knadler

 
Is there a more quintessential summer image than that of a bathing beauty soaking up the sun’s rays on the seashore? In both photographs, then and now, our ladies pose with their hands behind their heads, elbows to sky, in a stance that has suggested warm, open sensuality throughout the ages. In Veruschka on a Dock shot by Louis Faurer  in 1965, the iconic model stands proudly, almost defiantly unprotected, the sheer fabric of her toile jumpsuit offering no coverage from the sun’s rays, suggesting an easier, freer era when sun burns were of no concern. A stranger eagerly takes in a view of her backside (infer what you will about his oar thrust to sky). She becomes an object of this man’s gaze, making us, the viewer, unintentional voyeurs as well. Not that Veruschka cares. On the contrary, she seems to revel in it. This was on the cusp of the free love and modern women’s lib movement, after all. In Magdalena, Paradise Island by Greg Kadel, our bathing beauty is having more of an insular, contemplative moment, less loud and proud. Her posture is slightly more contracted and her body is covered (mostly) by a diaphanous, voluminous maxi dress, suggesting a woman privately occupying her own experience in an unpredictable world. 

-Jessie Knadler


July 2012