Michael Cook - Prisoners of Desire
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Young women encased in black rubber, smoky eye shadow,  sheet metal, bolts and rivets, tattoos and piercing -- the elements used by California artist-philosopher Michael Cook in creating this exhibition especially for Fashion Finds.

Michael calls the exhibit Multi-Layered Mesh, but as you look at the strikingly evocative images, you'll see that Michael has used for each photo-construction a different interpretation of the veil -- a garment used around the world throughout recorded history.

Michael's work combines both spiritual and sensual qualities.

"There is a conscious effort to create an alchemy with these two forces," Michael says. "If Iíve accomplished what Iíve set out to do, the results will reach out and speak to the audience. My icons are more than objets díart."

"Choker and Veil"

Michael's interest in veils began when he was 14. "I was into archeology, and working on a Spanish adobe site in Southern California. Across from me in the next pit was a middle-aged woman talking to her partner. She told a bizarre and intriguing tale of a trip to the South American jungles to see dinosaurs! She went on to say she had the gift of second sight, because she had been born with a "veil." She said it was so thick that it took two days to completely remove. I didn't know what she was talking about, but I was determined to find out."

"Sepia Veil"

"The "caul" is a membrane which sometimes envelops the head of an infant at birth." Michael continues, "Amniomancy (a word used by believers in Wicca --Gina) is a form of divination, or foretelling the future, and sometimes the past, practiced by using a caul."

"Superstitions surrounding the caul reach back into antiquity. Roman midwives sold cauls near the Forum. Even as late as the 1870's, British newspapers printed advertisements by prospective purchasers of a caul, offering large sums of money."

"There is a history of men wearing veils, but not with the connotations that the veil has for women."

"Arranged marriages have long been the custom of various societies. The veil solves any family dilemmas concerning the brideís appearance, and the groomís willingness to complete his contractual obligations. You can read about this in The Book Of Jacob in the Old Testament."

"Royal Veil"

"The Catholic, Jewish and Muslim religions all have various prohibitions against bare heads inside sacred places, and specifically religious uses of a veil for females. In Western culture, the Victorian perception of chastity, maidenly reticence and innocence came to be symbolized by the lace and silk of a veil. This custom is still practiced to this today every time a bride walks down the aisle."

"It is so intriguing to me that some cultures, including our own, use the veil to represent moral modesty and chastity for women. In reality, this "protective" covering stimulates the desires it claims to silence."

"Damascene Veil"

The works you see here combine photography and contemporary sculptural technique. Michael says he "photographs his models and then digitally transfigures them. The output is printed on high quality, 140-pound hot press paper that picks up the rich, saturated colors. The picture is then mounted between sheet metal backing and neoprene rubber facing, locked together with an array of industrial fasteners."

"The sheet metal is first drilled, and the rubber then punched and sliced, before being bolted down around the picture. The model is both enshrouded and selectively revealed; a combination of contrasting properties: feminine beauty and industrial strength."

"The painter Gustav Klimt, photographer Ellen von Unwerth, and musician-image maker Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, are my creative landmarks, and their work speaks the same language as mine.  I go after the aura of a person who seems both mysterious and melancholy. For me, these qualities are the essence of beauty, and have a powerful allure.  The word I use for these qualities is COLDCOLORS." And COLDCOLORS is the word Michael uses for his entire body of work. "In my mindís eye, I see a luminescence around people who project this type of magnetic beauty. The only way I know to describe it is poetically:

Blue foreshadowing
Trailing crystalline fines
Rose-pink tenor
Milk-white tremors
Iridescent radiance

"Metal Mesh Veil"
Michael Cook's photo constructions are
Copyright COLDCOLORS 2000.

Micael Cook's web site: CLICK HERE.
To contact Michael Cook CLICK HERE.
Prisoners Of Desire Continues....