A History of Violence,works by international American artist Melanie Pullen.

Date: April 22, 2017

On public view from April 22 to May 17, the show will feature a selection from three bodies of Pullen’s earlier work that include two series of photographs, “High Fashion Crime Scenes” and “Violent Times,” as well as a video installation based on “Soda POP!” a very personal and autobiographical series of portraits.

“Pullen presents a selection of conspicuous artworks created from 2003 onward, which are at the crossroads of beauty, fashion and violence,” said curator Marisa Caichiolo. “She forces viewers to question our society’s desire to glamorize violence.”

Pullen’s notable photographic series “High Fashion Crimes Scenes” is comprised of large-scale color photographs of recreated crime scenes in which she dressed up the ‘victims’ in haute couture.

To recreate glamorized versions of murders and suicides, the artist used high-fashion models and well-known actresses to pose as the victims while she relied on files from the LAPD and the NYPD for her ultimate cinematic recreation. Pullen had to go through an extensive period of research to locate the reference photos with the assistance of the former Chief of Police and the LA Coroner. She worked on the series for nearly two decades.

Both “High Fashion Crimes Scenes” and the “Violent Times” series simultaneously examine and criticize what is known as the ‘dumbing down effect,’ in which the media has diminished the nature of violence, trauma, and social conflict by producing highly stylized and glamorized interpretations of humanity’s trials and tribulations.

Pullen’s “Violent Times” series recreates historic battle scenes in her signature style of cinematic large-scale tableaux. To bring them to life, she closed down the streets of Los Angeles, used weapons, war machines, tanks and helicopters.

For one of the most iconic images, she even had a movie studio build large areas of the city of Berlin, a task that took six months to complete. To create the illusion of timelessness, she used light manipulation and painted portions of the final photograph by hand during post-production.

This series also includes Pullen’s life-size photographs of male fashion models dressed as soldiers and situated in a variety of postures that span from the mundane to the full combat stance. These are backlit portraits of soldiers that traverse hundreds of years of uniform styles and war dress yet specifically explore the stiffly posed paintings that were in vogue during the 18th and 19th centuries.

“My goal with this series was to create images that bring to mind the opera of war…images that take aim at society’s glamorization of violence,” Pullen explained.

In “Violent Times,” the artist also addresses that, for more than a century, models were employed for painting battles scenes ultimately to sensationalize war. The juxtaposition of violence and cinematic beauty, seen thematically in her work, becomes yet more evident in this war series.

Given the size of the portraits, the extent of the production and costuming, it took Pullen nearly a decade to finish “Violent Times.” She, additionally, had assistance from the Smithsonian Institute, which allowed her special access to its rarely seen war archives for her in-depth research.

About Melanie Pullen

Melanie Pullen was born in New York City in 1975. She is self-taught and was raised in a family of photojournalists, publishers and artists. Currently she lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Pullen has been exhibited with various museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville Florida, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego California, and Museo Jumex in Mexico City. Pullen has been recognized in numerous publications including Art Forum, ArtReview, CBS News, CBS Radio, Elle, Fortune, GQ, LA Times, National Public Radio, New York Times Magazine, Nylon, Photo, Rolling Stone, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, and W. She is available for interviews.

You can also visit the event's website at: www.buildingbridgesartexchange.org/

For more information contact: [email protected]


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