The latest image from Marcel van der Vlugt’s series ‘A New Day’ bears the title ‘New Lilith’. The photo is a remake of the painting Lilith by British pre-Raphaelite painter John Collier (1850-1934). According to Apocryphal scripture, Lilith was Adam’s first wife. She refused to subdue him and -when he tried to force her- she fled from paradise. Subsequently, God created Eve out of Adam’s rib, but Lilith returns and tempts Eve into eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Lilith is the universal archetype of the rebellious woman who refuses to be the underdog, only to be punished by the male oppressor. Oppression leads to revolt, revolt to oppression, thereby completing the circle.
The subsequent images in the series shows Lilith in bondage. Wrapped like a mummy, she is completely defenceless.
As the first image is a remake the rest of the series is a makeover. ‘A New Day’ is all about an imaginary beauty-clinic for plastic surgery where – instead of liposuction, Botox, breast augmentation, leg-length increasementing or facelifts – implantation of blossom is being performed. Blossom being a metaphor for youth, new life and fertility: A contradiction between eternal youth and transience. The series is not free of irony. By swathing a woman in bandages, barring her naturally perfect breasts, the viewer has the illusion that the breasts have been surgically corrected. Van der Vlugt is fascinated by the different aspects of the term “beauty”.
The editorial and autonomous work of Marcel van der Vlugt (1957), is of an unmistakably sensual quality, erotic and titillating, but certainly not abusive of or unkind to women. This is in part due to the use of Polaroid-material, with which Van der Vlugt involves the model in every step of the process. A photo is never “stolen”, always taken with consent and participation. This makes Van der Vlugt more poetic than exposing.’Pim Milo
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