Originally uploaded by mephistosdreams.
A major characteristic of (post-(post-))modern art is in its use of transgressive imagery. But as art became "pop", transgressions become mainstream, and so the transgressive artist must come up with new ground for transgression.
So hey, why not combine two transgressions in one piece?
So... we have a beautiful and sexy woman that most would envy, or desire, or both. And she's dressed in glistening black latex, but leaving both face and breasts somewhat exposed and in clear view. Even if you dislike latex, you must admit it's erotic in an animalistic way.
The glistening is due to blood, which has been smeared all over her face, breasts, and hair. And she's eating a heart.
Now, I'm not claiming the picutre is high art at all. It's tempting to state, "Yes, yes, eating the heart symbolizes the loss of love, I get it, let's move on." And it's easy to dismiss this photo by dismissing the transgressions: "Fetish wear? Cannibals? Those fads are SO last year. We're into flip-flops and senseless wars now!"
But hold that thought for a moment. Take a moment to really look at this photo. The execution is marvelous--beautifully composed, properly lit, and remarkably simple. Her expression is both crazed and lusty, forcing you to wrestle between disgust and desire.
Now, of course, there's the whole matter of eating. Carol Adams has made a career criticizing the use of meat as sexual metaphor, and I'm sure she'd consider this picture to be vindication of her theories. Whether or not she is right, cannibalism metaphors have been used to describe oral sex for almost as long as oral sex has existed. Throw in the mass quantities of blood--a fluid that mainly differs from semen in the types of cells in it--and it would almost seem like bukkake. (Not work-safe; no nudity.)
Almost. BECAUSE IT'S STILL BLOOD. AND SHE'S STILL EATING A HUMAN HEART.
Ahem. Sorry, I realize we live in a culture with a weird fascination with death. I also know that cultures all around the world have had their fascination with death. But no matter what, unless you have a fetish for cannibalism too--and I won't rule that out--chances are you're still wrestling between desire and disgust, and all attempts to analyze fail to take away the desire or the disgust. In that it succeeds so well in inspiring that conflict internally, it's successful as art, despite its subjects.