Friday, 26 September 2014

The Dressing Up Box

Austria, without doubt, is a country blessed with abundant natural beauty, to the extent that it must be a real problem for anyone concerned with representation.  Frankly, I'd hate to be an Austrian photographer.  Surrounded by all that "senseless beauty", whaddaya gonna do?

Nordkette viewed from the Muttereralm

So, I found that one of the most interesting and ironically self-aware displays in the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum in Innsbruck is a reconstruction of a early 20th century photographer's studio, where real Tyroleans could dress up in folksy Tracht as fantasy "Tyroleans", just like grandma, to be photographed against painted Alpine backdrops.

The fantasy...

The naked truth...

The Scots will be familiar with this dilemma of identity, though in their case in more interesting patterns and colourways.  Doubtless there is a similar display in an Inverness museum.  If there isn't, there should be.

Of course, the truth lies within.  The camera may lie about your appearance, but it knows what goes on in your soul.  Amusingly, inside the bellows of an 8x10 view camera within the Volkskunstmuseum photographer's studio, someone has placed this pair, lit by an eerie red glow:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity...

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