Cannibals, werewolves and tentacles: The web searches that bring you here.

Blog statistics are a fascinating gateway into the collective unconscious. While the identities of those who’ve visited my blog remain anonymous, their mouse clicks remain on record and provide an insight into the topics that interest them most. What occupies people’s thoughts during those moments of procrastination when they are not writing that report for their boss or essay for that class? Cannibals, apparently. More specifically, Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust, a film that’s still considered controversial after 32 years and, likely due to its continued notoriety, received the most “hits” on my blog. If they’re not seeking information on cannibal films, people are looking into the Canadian teenage werewolves of Ginger Snaps which, as far as I’m concerned, is a much better use of their time.

Periodically, I will write about topics other than horror films, though these topics are as equally strange and macabre. Heinrich Hoffmann’s darkly comedic children’s book Der Struwwelpeter (1845) has garnered a great deal of interest on my blog, as well as the eroticized anatomical art of Jacques D’Agoty and anatomists of the 18th-century. The mythological vagina dentata and Japanese ‘tentacle erotica’ draw a fair amount of interest, as one might expect.

Celebrities and famous artists predictably top my statistics tally. People have searched on marquee names from art history including Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Odilon Redon, and Hannah Wilke (though the latter is lesser known), as well as contemporary visual artists Loretta Lux, Marcel Dzama and Shary Boyle. And, 45 years after her death, Jayne Mansfield still attracts a large amount of attention. I only wrote about her in a post last week, and she’s #22 on the list of “all-time” top searches. Of course, her story is a ‘perfect storm’ for achieving immortality on the Internet: a beautiful, buxom starlet, who reportedly dabbled in Satanism, died young and in most grisly manner (depending on which account you read, she was either scalped or decapitated in a car accident). We are, as a species, a ghoulish bunch.

Here’s the top 30 searches, according to WordPress:

cannibal holocaust 577
ginger snaps 287
holocaust 279
struwwelpeter 253
loretta lux 247
odilon redon 246
max ernst 246
vagina dentata 184
daguerreotype 123
tentacle erotica 109
cannibal 97
jennifer linton alphabet series 94
walerian borowczyk 91
max ernst collage 84
der struwwelpeter 78
hannah wilke 70
contes immoraux 67
drag me to hell 56
agoty angel 49
anatomical art 46
jayne mansfield 45
marcel dzama 43
the descent 40
macabre art 37
drag me to hell old lady 37
best animated movies of all time………… 33
holocaust pictures 33
redon 33
irreversible 28

Now, get back to work…

p.s. One of the funniest web searches I’ve seen to date would be this one: “horror movie with a women who seducing and kill men with her vagina.” Hey, who am I to judge? Incidentally, there is such a film — not surprisingly, it’s Japanese and called Killer Pussy. You’re welcome.

A Disquieting Beauty: the photography of Loretta Lux

Study of a Boy 1, Loretta Lux, 2002.

It’s a given: babies and small children are cute. If ever there was a photographic image that possessed universal appeal, it is that of the child. Too young to have developed any sense of self-consciousness, they seem assured and wholly natural before the camera lens. That being said, there is no greater threat to the credibility of a fine art photographer than the use of the child as a subject. Photographs of cherubic babes are acceptable on your home mantle, but are they serious enough fodder for the lofty halls of the gallery or museum?

The meteoric rise and critical acclaim of photo-artist Loretta Lux answers my rhetorical question with a resounding “yes.” The German-born Lux combines painting with photography to create her quirky, signature portraits of children. She employs a subtle form of digital manipulation that seamlessly fuses her painted backdrops with the photographic foreground, resulting in images that appear just slightly “off” from straightforward portraiture. Her soft, diffuse light and muted colour palette give her children an otherworldly appearance, as if they were ghosts haunting long-abandoned houses. The nostalgic costumes in which her subjects are clothed serve to heighten this uncanny, ghost-like quality.

It is this tension between the beauty of the child and the strangeness of their environments that elevate Lux’s portraits above the Walmart-variety kitsch of, say, an Anne Geddes eggplant-baby, and offer up a compelling and unsentimental view of children and childhood.

The Green Room, Loretta Lux, 2005.