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Bettina Rheims

Kristin Scott Thomas playing with a blond wig I, Mai 2002, Paris, 2002

Smooth surfaces, frozen poses, petrified gestures, and pure attitude—Bettina Rheims’ photographs of meticulously staged scenes play with the cliché of seduction and the illusion of glamour. She displays intimacy aggressively, portraying naked women as lust objects with erect nipples, shaved pubic hair, and posed in obscene positions. The photographs are daring, but not lewd or vulgar. They are without sentimentality or nostalgia, and transcend prevailing ideals of beauty. At the same time, they reveal a uniquely feminine gaze which—in its cool, reserved focus on surfaces—never exposes its subjects voyeuristically but always maintains respect for the women portrayed.

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