The Meaning of Leopard Print

May 4, 2017 - photo frame

From a couture of Christian Dior to a lawful gloss of Jacqueline Kennedy; from a objectifying shredded pelts of Sheena, Queen of a Jungle, to a ostentatious spandex of Peggy Bundy; a skin of a leopard—which, as we say, can't change a spots—has been, in American fashion, remarkably mutable. These days—on, say, the women of New York City—leopard print, either preservation or high fashion, seems to signify, some-more than anything, a certain knowingness, and a wearer’s certainty that her possess sartorial intentions, whatever they might be, can withstand a print’s thick past: arrogant luxury, proper sophistication, decrepit overexposure, rock, kitsch, and, of course, many shades of sex. Leopard—though so bound and loud—actually seems to be a welcoming aspect for projection, if we can chuck some self-confidence behind it.

In a new exhibition, “From Mobutu to Beyoncé,” at a Bronx Documentary Center, portraits by a Montreal-born and Paris-based photographer Émilie Régnier present leopard-skin imitation and fur as seen on women and group in a Democratic Republic of a Congo, Gabon, Senegal, South Africa, France, Texas, and New York, contrariety a pattern’s fluidity, and translating it opposite cultures. (The photographs, from a array called “Leopard,” are being displayed alongside works from Régnier’s “Hair” project, that is composed of snapshot-style images of women in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.) First, a Western spectator is reminded that a leopard’s aura is utterly some-more tangible on a continent where a animals have indeed roamed, and where leopard skin has prolonged conveyed domestic energy and informative distinction. In South Africa, a pelts formerly noted Zulu elite and currently play an critical purpose in a traditions of a Shembe Church. In several regions opposite a African continent, a fur is compared with manly power, and in Régnier’s photographs from Kinshasa, in Congo, we find dual representations of a former tyrant Joseph Mobutu, whose power lasted some-more than thirty years. The ruler—who died in exile, in 1997—appears in one design in a framed illustration, his lips parted, as if still about to speak, a leopard-print toque for that he was famous perched high on his conduct like a crown. In a second image, we see a male named Samuel Weidi, a Mobutu impersonator, photographed with chin raised, top pointed toward a sky, forged shaft pulpy to a mud highway next him, as if surveilling his kingdom—a landscape of unprepared petrify structures, razor wire, and woods.

Régnier’s leopard-print portraits are shot with a approved generosity. Each theme is centered in a picture’s frame; roughly all demeanour directly during a camera, or viewer, and any is acted still, unsmiling. Centered lighting, low interiors, and mostly flat, matte skies all minister to a clarity that a impression portrayed is important, and a stage mostly serious. We find a Bettie Page look-alike in leopard lingerie, with legs somewhat spread, and face stern; a woman, maybe in her fifties, in New York, in a art-world character of red lip, plain face, and blunt bob, in a leopard-print hang coat. In Dakar, a lady named Aïcha, in a prejudiced leopard-print conduct headband and dress, lies on a stained mattress before a scraped habit surfaced with laundry, and regards a spectator with a somewhat questionable pride. In a relaxed design from Libreville, Gabon, a immature woman, Nancy, in a leopard-print bra, is seen on a prolonged widen of beach that lies out of concentration behind her. She is uninformed from a swim, her swell and swell sequence pulpy forward, one palm to her stomach and one on her hip. It is a mural of pleasing dominion.

The weights of conform and hereditary enlightenment are, of course, utterly different; further a burdens of persecution contra those of approved society, or a force of honour amid misery contra a prideful ennui. In a sketch taken during a Musée de la Chasse (Hunting) et de la Nature, in Paris, a lady named Arielle Dombasle is graphic disposition opposite a grand grate underneath a gilded mural of a maybe eighteenth-century man, in a wig, displaying his purloin and animal kill, and a pressed leopard growls over a leopard-print cloth underneath her. Though Régnier has created that Arielle wears leopard as a pitch of “absolute femininity,” this is also a mural of dominion—of sovereignty and a spoils.

Larry, in Texas, a white male lonesome in tattoos that impersonate a leopard’s skin, provides a poetic contrast. He’s graphic from a waist up, nude, and fibbing behind on a stained cot in clearly tighten quarters. Régnier has pronounced that Larry wanted to shun a tellurian world, and a lavish, even flamboyant, self-assurance of his decision, opposite a loneliness it seems to belie, and a siege sketched by Régnier’s frame, is moving. In a permanent dress of a predator, he appears really innocent.

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