Major Controversy Over "Victims Of Beauty" Photo Series

Major Controversy Over "Victims Of Beauty" Photo Series

Bulgarian Magazine, 12 Mag, has sure been rufflin' up some feathers over a piece they ran in June entitled "Victims of Beauty". Photographer Vasil Germanov along with MUAs Daniela Avramova and Slav have been making international headlines along with "12" for depecting models beaten, bruised and cut. Personally, I love the series and I think the artistry is beautiful, especially on the account of the MUAs... The content of these images are strong, and I can understand if people don't want to look at it. But, I suppose what always leaves me a bit puzzled in circumstances like this is, why people don't just look away and move on? Why the controversy, why do people feel so strongly about standing against the art that others make? What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.


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35 Comments

John Mangino's picture

Fantastic work. Doesn't seem any more shocking than your average slasher pic. My only question would be 'what's the point?', and I don't mean that in a snarky sense.
Is this to show how great the makeup artist is? I feel like I am missing something broader here. Otherwise the controversy doesn't make much sense.

You're right, John. It doesn't really do a great job at explaining what the project is about. I'm only left to assume the concept was "pain is hidden beneath beauty" or to show that abuse does happen and that people shouldn't cover it up.

I'm with you. I'm not sure they want to talk about which issue : models commiting suicide, models being exploited in fashion, violence against women, violence against beautiful women (even worse), or is this simply a portfolio for a MUA gone viral....

This knid of work should stand out for something, other wise it's shocking only to shock.... and that's pointless...

I think the fact that it's unspecified is what makes it genius. As a viewer you don't have a handy excuse to dismiss or embrace it on a social meme. You have to decide for yourself what it means, and face your own thoughts on what you see.

How is violence against "beautiful women" WORSE than violence against women in general?

exactly! Why in the world would you make that difference???

I meant it as If the message the author wanted to make us aware of was "violence against beuatiful women" which to me seems weird to try to raise awareness to a subset of women. ANY violence is revolting. I just expressed myself unclearly in english...

ah ok, I see. Thanks for answering and clearing that up. And true, if this was the educational intention of the artist, it would be worse, indeed.

Nice finished product, but shallow and obvious concept. Probably got the idea from the show, "Nip/Tuck" anyway so not even original.

Corey Melton's picture

nip tick was the first thought i had because of the cut mouth

The pictures seem to glamourize abuse against women. Overwhelmingly women are the victims of this type of violence.

Maybe the point is to publicize this type of abuse, but then why the heavy make up and "fashion"-styled photography? Why not a more stark or sobering image of the abuse?

And if the point wasn't just to stir up shit why not just use male models?

I think understand what you mean Philip. In the end the images will stand without context of an article or any additional description from an artist. It is striking how context ultimately changes the viewers impression of an image.

An interesting point here, is that, isn't that what art is about? Speaking to the viewer on their own terms. Doesn't art loose it's significance if it doesn't grab hold of a viewer? Confronting them about a seldom experienced emotion or challenging what a viewer takes for granted is a powerful way of creating an internal, if not external dialogue.

If the point of this work is to express the darker side of victims of fashion, then I think the make up and styling is perfect. Bringing two worlds together; one glamorous, one horrific, challenges our context of an image and forces us to place our own interpretation on it. If the models were simply placed in an abusive context that we may easily identify with simple abuse, some of the story is washed out by banality.

Hail Sagan's picture

y so srs?

You know, it's good quality work. Provokes feelings, something art should do. Hard to define the purpose.

THE AMOUNT OF SEXISM IN THESE PHOTOS IS TOO DAMN HIGH! why not men being beaten up and abused by women? -_-

Right, If you go to any third world nation OH and even the US, the majority of violent crimes are perpetrated toward women and children. Sorry but it is a fact.
this is one of the many statistics you can get on this:

In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an
intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed
approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder
victims.
Callie Marie Rennison, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 197838, Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, at 1 (2003), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ipv01.pdfBTW, I'm a woman.

Elliott Montello's picture

because men are better then woman :P jokes, but really they are just pictures there is no moral undertones here.

because that is the reality of the situation. Far more women are abused than men. It happens to men of course, but not in the same scale. 

The comments on this will invariably say more about the commenter than the art. Since the viewer has to make their own judgement on it, they have to project some personal interpretation. Is it terribly complex or original? no. Is it effective? Absolutely!

Well. Making violence into a piece of art does seem a bit likely to make us less compassionate to those who have experienced it. So, not really a fan.

@google-e9340c0b97f9071212577fb217b4b438:disqus why is it worse when "beautiful" women are abused than "average" women? What's the point of that assertion? Are they worth less when they don't look good or what?
Secondly, I think if you can't derive the point they make or if they don't even bother to explain I have to assume it's for the cheap thrills and exploitative. I don't know if I can post links here, but if you go to NY Times Lens-Blog, there is a series about abuse victims, which is really shocking and moving, without exploiting the people who suffer from this kind of violence. I don't see why we need that stuff if we have reportage photos which harrowingly depict these horrible acts. If they really wanted to raise attention for the issue they could've have published the other pictures from Lens.
Imho it's all about these pictures going meme and thereby creating some kind of publicity for the magazine. Which I'd find despicable.

See my comment up the page... I never wanted to infer that some violence against some women is worse than the other... english is not my first language. I meant that IF this was the message for the series.... it's not ok.

I also commented up the page. Thanks for answering. Unfortunately I heard that kind of stuff from people over and over again, and in their cases it is not a language problem. So I get a little hot headed with that kind of stuff. So sorry for that, but good to know that it was only a communication problem ;-)

Mr. Louis CK says it right. He's talking about verbal insulting in the quote below, but it's the same for everything - especially art, which should have complete social freedom. So...

'It's not wrong to insult a person. It's insulting to them, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. You can call people names. Namecalling is okay. Because people get mad at each other and they call each other names.

People think that, like, that there's something in the constitution that protects them from being offended. Like there's something wrong with offending people. They actually think that it's in the bill of rights. "Freedom from being offended or feeling icky about something someone said". You're not. You're not protected. People get to offend you and you get to sit there and go "Waah, that didn't bother me" and shut up.

People have the right to be gross, and insulting, and people have the right to say bad things all they want.'

It is more like an eye opener for what is happening in Bulgaria. I personally know many Bulgarians and they told me how women are treated in their country. All over the world is great to be beautiful but there you may just become a victim of violence because of that. Beautiful women are treated like a product, kidnapped and exported to western countries to work on the streets. It may be less visible in major cities like Sofia or Varna but in small towns or villages it is a problem.
I don't know if that is what they tried to say, but that is how i understand it. That they are victims because they are beautiful.

I LOVE these, but I really like the fact that they all have the same color of eyes.

Fantastic art work! It is a powerful message. I think we need to do whatever it takes to stop abuse and end domestic violence, and end the silence!! if feathers are ruffled then I have to ask why? Abuse needs to be talked about and not hidden. Maybe thos whos feathers are ruffled are abusers or have been abused. Maybe it hit home for some. There are so many people that are abused that hide their heads in the sand, living in denial, when all that does is give the abuser the idea that what they are doind is ok. Do what it takes to get this subject out there. Loud and clear. Power to you.

These images are really strong. At the same time, they're beautiful ant artistic. But I still feel indecisive about them. Great work anyway!

/ <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CarlosZayaPhotography" rel="nofollow">Carlos Zaya Photography</a>

First of all, the MUA did an absolutely fantastic job... Very realistic looking. I think the concept is great, and the photos are well executed. I agree with the description; why, if someone doesn't like something, do they have to go make a big deal about it? In other words, why can't they just close out the page and move on with their life? I suppose you could say the artist succeeded in making an impact on these folks if they're going to start controversy over it. And for the rest of us, I'm sure it's made an impact in a better, more artist way. I also agree with John in that these don't seem 'any more shocking than your average slasher pic'. (It's not like they're terribly grotesque.. I've seen much worse.) Anyways, great job, all in all. I really like them.

Momo's picture

Yeah, Its problematic when, violence against women in our country is an epidemic. It looks sadly, like every fashion spread, designer shoe ad, etc. so it doesn't even come across to me as artistic. You could slap any make up brand on these, and there ya go--magazine ready. Images like this are SO normalized, I can't even see this as art. If it were men, it would be more artistic and provoking, but still problematic. As is, its a cheap rendition of the violence we already see normalized against woman. 

And why make controversy about it? Because I can only use my voice and vote to make the communities I'm a part of safe, and I don't want to live in a society where 1 in 3 women being the victim of domestic violence is tolerated. 

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