this is jennifer miller! i’ve met her and she’s wonderful.
Yet context does play a critical role in how we judge people — and certainly how we determine the content of a photograph, as in the case of Zoe Leonard’s “Jennifer Miller Does Marilyn Monroe.” Leonard’s pin-up (the large-scale photo is literally pinned to the wall, unframed) depicts Jennifer Miller, a real woman who has a real beard. She’s sprawled naked on red satin in the same unmistakable pose as the famous Monroe, but combined with Miller’s black facial and body hair the pose also brings to mind seventeenth-century paintings of Jesus crucified. In a society where many women, and now even men, are self-conscious about body hair and consequently spend hours plucking and shaving, Leonard’s burlesque asks, “What is sexy?” and “Who the hell decides for us, anyway — the makers of Nair depilatory?”