Annie Leibovitz (1949-); Fotografia comercial e não só…

Meryl Streep. © Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz é uma das fotógrafas comerciais mais conhecidas na actualidade. A versatilidade do seu trabalho não tem paralelo; desde fotografia de retrato até fotografia de moda, passando pela fotografia de reportagem, Annie abarcou quase tudo e sempre com uma irrepreensível qualidade técnica e estética.

In “Os segredos de Leibovitz, a fotógrafa dos famosos” (excerto)

Expresso online © Ana Soromenho


A câmara por companhia

A máquina fotográfica é objecto muito antigo na vida de Annie Leibovitz. Na biografia que nos conta, explica como a mãe, de máquina Super 8 na mão, andava sempre a filmar a numerosa família, que se deslocava em permanente movimento pela América: “Estávamos tão habituados à câmara que achávamos que era mais um membro da família”, diz-nos ela. O pai, militar da Força Aérea, andava de base em base, acompanhado pela família, que o segue dentro do automóvel. Annie explica como o carro era o modo de vida dos Leibovitz, a ponto de afirmar que “quando se cresce assim é fácil tornar-se artista, pois o mundo é apreendido através de uma janela como se fosse uma sequência de fotogramas”. É a América mitológica e da cultura on the road que surge na sua narrativa da infância, preparando já o caminho para o tempo que virá a seguir.

No final da adolescência, Annie Leibovitz entra no Art Institute de São Francisco com o objectivo de se tornar professora de arte. Tem aulas de fotografia, toma contacto com Robert Frank e Cartier-Bresson e aprende, segundo diz, que “a câmara é uma espécie de

A sua lente imortalizou um momento único entre Yoko e Lennon.
A sua lente imortalizou um momento único entre Yoko e Lennon.

licença para viajar e conhecer mundo”. No início da sua carreira, Leibovitz, cidadã de São Francisco, começa a trabalhar para a “Rolling Stone”, a famosa revista de música, poderoso veículo da cultura emergente das pop stars. Durante toda a década de 70, ela está no centro deste universo.

Da Rolling Stone à Vanity Fair

Jann Wenner, fundador da revista, conta como Annie passava dias em reportagem, submergindo-se no ambiente dos músicos como se fosse “one of the gang”. É nesse espírito que aceita ser a fotógrafa oficial da primeira grande tournéeinternacional dos Rolling Stones. Durante meses, acompanha os músicos na estrada e revela ao mundo fotografias de uma intimidade única da famosíssima banda. Pela primeira vez, é mostrada uma imagem de dentro do palco enquanto decorre um espectáculo. O envolvimento com a trupe de Mike Jagger leva-a mais tarde a confessar: “Não sabia no que me estava a meter. Fui incrivelmente ingénua ao pegar naquele grupo de homens e decidir que queria fazer parte.” Só acabará por se livrar das drogas alguns anos depois, num centro de reabilitação.

Imagens para a história

Se os anos da “Rolling Stone” lhe permitiram o acesso ao universo das pop stars, ganhando fama com retratos que marcaram a década e tornaram a sua assinatura valiosa (ver destaques), a passagem para a “Vanity Fair”, em 1983, deu-lhe a entrada no universo das celebridades. Os meios que uma poderosa revista de mundanidades possuía para grandes produções deslumbraram Leibovitz, que fez uso do seu arrojo em encenações de grande glamour, cada vez mais dispendiosas. A identidade dos seus retratos funde-se na imagem de marca da “Vanity Fair”: Whoopi Goldberg, a emergir numa banheira cheia de leite; Isabella Rossellini e David Lynch, depois de “Blue Velvet”, num misterioso retrato de fundo azul-forte como um quadro de Matisse; Arnold Schwarzenegger, futuro governador da Califórnia, no topo de uma pista de esqui; Jack Nicholson, com os seus inseparáveis óculos escuros e em roupão de seda, a jogar golfe na sua casa; Isabel II, sem coroa, num retrato com fundo dramático, em Buckingham Palace; Nelson Mandela, de sorriso aberto; Hilary Clinton, durante a campanha; Bush e a sua equipa, na Casa Branca. Também Obama se fez fotografar por Annie Leibovitz e posou pela primeira vez em família pouco depois de se tornar Presidente dos EUA.

O retrato de Demi Moore, grávida de Bruce Willis, em nu integral e segurando a barriga, na capa da “Vanity Fair”, numa imagem profundamente controversa que rendeu à revista um milhão de exemplares vendidos, resume o impacto dos retratos de Leibovitz: “Tornei-me mais conhecida com aquela imagem do que com qualquer dos filmes em que participei.” Num

O auto-retrato com Baryshnikov para a campanha da Louis Vuitton.
O auto-retrato com Baryshnikov para a campanha da Louis Vuitton.

tempo profundamente marcado pela cultura das celebridades, todos se eternizaram na câmara de Leibovitz, que com os retratos altamente encenados de depuração e intimidade devolve aos seus protagonistas uma imagem de imortalidade.

Nos últimos anos, nas megacampanhas para a marca Louis Vuitton, assinadas pela fotógrafa, onde, entre muitos outros, participaram Gorbachev, Catherine Deneuve, Francis Ford e Sophia Coppola, a própria Leibovitz não resistiu à encenação da sua mise en scène. Sentada no chão do estúdio, com a sua camisa preta, mocassins rasos, óculos rectangulares e a Leica pousada ao seu lado, olhando para cima – para o seu amigo bailarino Mikhail Baryshnikov, iluminado como um anjo -, ela torna-se objecto da sua fotografia. Nesta postura ambígua, mais do que nunca a fotógrafa do poder permite-se discretamente recriar-se como o maior ícone comercial captado pela sua máquina.”

Os seus últimos trabalhos incluem uma recriação, em fotografia, das mais conhecidas histórias da Disney onde figuram alguns actores e actrizes célebres de Holywood e também a campanha para a Louis Vuitton onde igualmente muitas personalidades famosas dão a cara.

Reconhecem os retratados?

© Annie Leibovitz. Série Disney

© Annie Leibovitz. Campanha Louis Vuitton

Clint Eastwood. © Annie Leibovitz

Gus Van Sant e Sean Penn. © Annie Leibovitz

Ron Howard e Tom Hanks. © Annie Leibovitz

Sam Mendes e Kate Winslet. © Annie Leibovitz

Bruce Springsteen. © Annie Leibovitz

Jonny e Patty Cash. © Annie Leibovitz

___

Essay on Annie Leibovitz Photographs by Susan Sontag. Source: New York Times on the Net

A Photograph Is Not an Opinion. Or Is It?

Undertake to do a book of photographs of people with nothing more in common than that they are women (and living in America at the end of the twentieth century), all–well, almost all–fully clothed, therefore not the other kind of all-women picture book . . .

Start with no more than a commanding notion of the sheer interestingness of the subject, especially in view of the unprecedented changes in the consciousness of many women in these last decades, and a resolve to stay open to whim and opportunity . . .

Sample, explore, revisit, choose, arrange, without claiming to have brought to the page a representative miscellany . . .

Even so, a large number of pictures of what is, nominally, a single subject will inevitably be felt to be representative in some sense. How much more so with this subject, with this book, an anthology of destinies and disabilities and new possibilities; a book that invites the sympathetic responses we bring to the depiction of a minority (for that is what women are, by every criterion except the numerical), featuring many portraits of those who are a credit to their sex. Such a book has to feel instructive, even if it tells us what we think we already know about the overcoming of perennial impediments and prejudices and cultural handicaps, the conquest of new zones of achievement. Of course, such a book would be misleading if it did not touch on the bad news as well: the continuing authority of demeaning stereotypes, the continuing violence (domestic assault is the leading cause of injuries to American women). Any large-scale picturing of women belongs to the ongoing story of how women are presented, and how they are invited to think of themselves. A book of photographs of women must, whether it intends to or not, raise the question of women –there is no equivalent “question of men.” Men, unlike women, are not a work in progress.

Each of these pictures must stand on its own. But the ensemble says, So this is what women are now-as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this. Nobody scrutinizing the book will fail to note the confirmation of stereotypes of what women are like and the challenge to those stereotypes. Whether well-known or obscure, each of the nearly one hundred and seventy women in this album will be looked at (especially by other women) as models: models of beauty, models of self-esteem, models of strength, models of transgressiveness, models of victimhood, models of false consciousness, models of successful aging.

No book of photographs of men would be interrogated in the same way.

But then a book of photographs of men would not be undertaken in the same spirit. How could there be any interest in asserting that a man can be a stockbroker or a farmer or an astronaut or a miner? A book of photographs of men with sundry occupations, men only (without any additional label), would probably be a book about the beauty of men, men as objects of lustful imaginings to women and to other men.

But when men are viewed as sex objects, that is not their primary identity. The traditions of regarding men as, at least potentially, the creators and curators of their own destinies and women as objects of male emotions and fantasies (lust, tenderness, fear, condescension, scorn, dependence), of regarding an individual man as an instance of humankind and an individual woman as an instance of . . . women, are still largely intact, deeply rooted in language, narrative, group arrangements, and family customs. In no language does the pronoun “she” stand for human beings of both sexes. Women and men are differently weighted, physically and culturally, with different contours of selfhood, all presumptively favoring those born male.

I do this, I endure this, I want this . . . because I am a woman. I do that, I endure that, I want that . . . even though I’m a woman. Because of the mandated inferiority of women, their condition as a cultural minority, there continues to be a debate about what women are, can be, should want to be. Freud is famously supposed to have asked, “Lord, what do women want?” Imagine a world in which it seems normal to inquire, “Lord, what do men want?” . . . but who can imagine such a world?

No one thinks the Great Duality is symmetrical–even in America, noted since the nineteenth century by foreign travelers as a paradise for uppity women. Feminine and masculine are a tilted polarity. Equal rights for men has never inspired a march or a hunger strike. In no country are men legal minors, as women were until well into the twentieth century in many European countries, and are still in many Muslim countries, from Morocco to Afghanistan. No country gave women the right to vote before giving it to men. Nobody ever thought of men as the second sex.

And yet, and yet: there is something new in the world, starting with the revoking of age-old legal shackles regarding suffrage, divorce, property rights. It seems almost inconceivable now that the enfranchisement of women happened as recently as it did: that, for instance, women in France and Italy had to wait until 1945 and 1946 to be able to vote. There have been tremendous changes in women’s consciousness, transforming the inner life of everyone: the sallying forth of women from women’s worlds into the world at large, the arrival of women’s ambitions. Ambition is what women have been schooled to stifle in themselves, and what is celebrated in a book of photographs that emphasizes the variety of women’s lives today.

Such a book, however much it attends to women’s activeness, is also about women’s attractiveness.

Nobody looks through a book of pictures of women without noticing whether the women are attractive or not.

To be feminine, in one commonly felt definition, is to be attractive, or to do one’s best to be attractive; to attract. (As being masculine is being strong.) While it is perfectly possible to defy this imperative, it is not possible for any woman to be unaware of it. As it is thought a weakness in a man to care a great deal about how he looks, it is a moral fault in a woman not to care “enough.” Women are judged by their appearance as men are not, and women are punished more than men are by the changes brought about by aging. Ideals of appearance such as youthfulness and slimness are in large part now created and enforced by photographic images. And, of course, a primary interest in having photographs of well-known beauties to look at over the years is seeing just how well or badly they negotiate the shame of aging.

In advanced consumer societies, it is said, these “narcissistic” values are more and more the concern of men as well. But male primping never loosens the male lock on initiative taking. Indeed, glorying in one’s appearance is an ancient warrior’s pleasure, an expression of power, an instrument of dominance. Anxiety about personal attractiveness could never be thought defining of a man: a man can always be seen. Women are looked at.

We assume a world with a boundless appetite for images, in which people, women and men, are eager to surrender themselves to the camera. But it is worth recalling that there are parts of the world where being photographed is something off-limits to women. In a few countries, where men have been mobilized for a veritable war against women, women scarcely appear at all. The imperial rights of the camera–to gaze at, to record, to exhibit anyone, anything–are an exemplary feature of modern life, as is the emancipation of women. And just as the granting of more and more rights and choices to women is a measure of a society’s embrace of modernity, so the revolt against modernity initiates a rush to rescind the meager gains toward participation in society on equal terms with men won by women, mostly urban, educated women, in previous decades. In many countries struggling with failed or discredited attempts to modernize, there are more and more covered women.

SUSAN SONTAG

These are the opening pages of the essay “A photograph is not an opinion. Or is it?” by Susan Sontag which appears in “Women” (Random House, 1999) by Annie Leibovitz. Essay © 1999 Susan Sontag, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency.


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