Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sam Roddick

‘From A Feminist Perspective Terry Richardson Is An Arsehole’ Sam Roddick On Her New Exhbition About The Male Gaze

The Debrief: The founder of Coco de Mer talks female objectification and the wounded man

Looking for something worthy to do with your weekend? If you’re in London, then get yourself down to Hidden Within, the new photography exhibition from Sam Roddick, daughter to body shop founder Anita and herself founder of luxury erotica franchise Coco de Mer, which is all about the male gaze.

The pictures in the exhibition shows women in various states of undress, in strained poses, and the antiquated look of the images give the whole thing an uncanny air.

 

Sam Roddick
 

The pictures are based on those of Carlo Mollino, who was known during his life as an architect and designer. After he died, however, hundreds and hundreds of erotic Polaroids of women were found a villa that he owned but never slept in.

‘Basically I came across Carlo Mollino when I opened Coco De Mer,’ says Sam. ‘There’s a lot of boring down days working in retail, you know, and that’s when my book collection in the shop was my sanctuary. I’d study his pictures and after a while, I realised the models weren’t posing as themselves; he’d posed them and he’d repeated the poses. Their hands were held in the same manner, flipped at the wrist and after a while you realised that he was sculpting them.’

In essence, Mollino had created images of the idealised women that were pleasing to the male gaze. ‘I’d always wanted to do a project on him,’ Sam continues. ‘If you peel back the layers, he’s sexually dark. He was the best example of objectification I’d seen.’

Sam Roddick
 

For Hidden Within, Sam has painstakingly recreated versions of Mollino’s pictures but used it to make a comment on the male gaze.

‘The women I used span 20 years; the oldest is 48 and the youngest is 28. They’re four dress sizes apart and the smallest was 5ft 2in while the tallest was 6ft but you can’t notice a height difference – I’ve taken all the difference of the women and attuned them into being as similar as possible to accentuate how we objectify women.’

And how did Sam’s models feel taking part? ‘A lot of them actually found a sense of power in their sexuality that they had never found before. All of them were so surprised by how much they liked the images.’

Sam Roddick
 

So what’s the message Sam’s trying to get across? ‘It’s a homage to what I call a “wounded man”. Like, Terry Richardson is a wounded man. His sexuality is definitely wounded. There’s a sexual aggression in his pictures that’s obvious. From an artistic perspective I like his pictures, from a feminist perspective, he’s an arsehole. I think he wears his damage on his sleeve whereas I feel Carlo Mollino’s damage is way more hidden. When you look at his photos, they’re a lot more respectful than what you see today.’

So why now? ‘My problem is that there’s only one kind of content out there. Women have been brought up in a misogynist culture so we’re misogynistic too. There’s a creative embargo on how female sexuality is displayed. It’s not so much about what’s wrong, it’s more like what’s right. I just don’t think there’s an emotional context there.’

Hidden Within is open now at the Michael Hoppen Gallery

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Tags: Artists