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Aug 16, 2011

A Model of Purity

There's a new international modeling star infusing energy and sexuality to the fashion world. A French girl named Thylane Blondeau, she's not only alluring, but she's everything the industry could hope for in innocence. That's because she's 10 years old! There is some controversy. The implications of youth– especially girls– being sexualized for the sake of marketing is a serious matter.

When the model and parents are willing, as in this case, it may remove worries of direct exploitation but that does nothing to reduce the creepiness of seeing a kid posed in a sexy way for an anonymous audience. Why is that? Who is harmed? I'd say that beyond the degradation of any individual, or even providing an unhealthy opportunity for perverts, the travesty is in the effect on the culture at large. When kids are imaged as adults for adult pleasure (and especially for profit!!) all involved are subtly nudged away from seeing the model as a real person. This is even the case with a willing adult model. They may be privately assured of the falsity of their own degradation and thus safe from it, but the rest of society suffers from a general deflation of the human spirit as the complexity of the real person is reduced to a one-dimensional clone of the fashion icon.

This is what much of my work of recent years has been about, especially with the Body Psalms films. In that project I try to counter this degradation not by negating sexuality as the church as done for centuries– to infamously disastrous results– but by reminding the viewer that what is unnatural is not sexual interest but the reduction of a person to an object: OK for mythic figures, but not OK for real human beings!

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.