To wander around Century City on a week-end is akin to exploring a ghost town – the spaces normally filled with suits and self-importance are empty of life, any life, especially 2000 Avenue of the Stars, a modern glass arch that houses a famed talent agency, Tom Colicchio’s “Craft” and the Annenberg Space for Photography, amongst others.
What drew me to Century City on a Memorial Day week-end was a wish to escape the crowded beaches and an aversion to the obligatory barbecue. And it was a wise idea because not only was the parking lot deserted but so was the freeway going east and most of the city around it.
I had never been to the Annenberg Space for Photography before and, until a short while ago, I even ignored its existence. The low, modern building in steel and glass atop a flight of stairs and dwarfed by the main arch stands on the ashes of a former theater. The exhibition I was interested in is “Beauty Culture”, an exploration of female beauty over the years, from the curves of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield to the androgyny of Twiggy and Madonna.
Through the photographs of fashion icons such as Herb Ritts, Albert Watson, David LaChapelle and others, the show takes us through the stages of what we accept as conventional beauty in the Western world to the horrifying and mystifying circuit of beauty pageants for little girls, dolled up like adults to create hybrids that deface childhood and promote a lifetime of fucked up women.
Through the idea of beauty in different cultures (a subject barely touched), the sequence of prints comes to a close with graphic photographs on the subject of what women will do to achieve their ideal of beauty. If you knew what a tummy tuck looks like while you are on the o.r. table, you might think twice.
The face of a deformed blonde checking herself out in a mirror, false boobs, lips taut to the point of explosion and an expressionless face, bears the caption “You just need to find a good doctor”. I suppose the Hippocratic oath should now include the promise to tell a patient when enough is enough.
Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars – Century City 90067