Jim Lee

Hamiltons Gallery

Can fashion photography ever be truly radical, or can it only be radical chic? The answer may seem self-evident, but only under the assumption that politics sits in judgment: Placing desire in the service of consumption, the fashion photo necessarily betrays desire’s radical potential. Shot for an ad for Jaeger, British photographer Jim Lee’s Baader Meinhof, 1969, in which the model’s elegant coat only just steals the scene from her haughtily upheld machine gun, illustrates the attendant problem clearly enough: The image would have been equally offensive to a conservative, appalled at the romanticization of terrorist violence, and to a leftist militant, aghast at the reduction of political rage to a style accessory. The image is censurable from either point of view.

Another image on view here, Fashion Magazine/Kenya, 1970, reveals a different sort of ambiguity: A blond model sprawls fully

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