A Baroque Bakcheia: Reserve Through Preserve

The concept of dressing the nude human form with a veritable feast is, today, neither avant garde nor risqué. At least that would be the likely response in the milieux of editorial, design, and conceptual photography. What I find interesting here is the restraint and almost somber reserve that the Berlin-based artist, Helen Sobiralski, has shown. The bodies are sensual but brooding and a trifle sexless. The elegantly and Baroquely styled tableaux still manage to avoid excess or even indulgence, a different scenario from over three decades ago.

Of course, the current topic at Marklewood is Thanksgiving. As I daydreamed this afternoon, as I usually do these days of waiting, my thoughts turned to sexy, indulgent, and creative holiday meals. Had I ever survived one? At 57, I have surely aged out of any likeliness of such karma. After a great deal of regular smiling and irregular heartbeats, I figured that 1978-80 would be the only years that I would’ve had the necessary opportunity, inclination, and stamina as well as be in an adventuresome relationship with a like-driven person. I had lived with a woman during those years and, although we had many libidinous, bacchanal, and excessive evenings, we split every “Turkey Day” in half. Her mother and my mother both lived in Greensboro and were both musing of grandchildren, I think.

In any case, by the time we finally unlocked our front door and collapsed on the sofa, we were fully sated. Any carnal romp would have to wait until Friday morning. Naturally, ’78-’80 would be the years that one would often find photographic studies that would have influenced Sobiralski on a grandiose level. There would, however, be a few major differences. The nudity would be frontal if not exploitive … embracing shock value. The bodies, then, would be covered with such a lavish smörgåsbord of delicacies and basics as if serving as the catering table for a three hundred person cocktail buffet. Nipples and navels would become delightful surprises, on a par with those offered by Cracker Jack and various cereals.

Hmmm. Perhaps I missed out on the dinner, but did make it to the cocktail party. The details are foggy. No! It wasn’t the Absinthe.

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