Thursday, 20 May 2010

The things she left behind

Image by Mark Anderson

It was Oct 2008 when I spotted Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine that I had the idea of basing an art project around belongings and femininity. The article for the magazine's special 25th anniversary issue claimed it would 'unlock' the 45 year old Marilyn Monroe mystery by revealing her personal cache of items overlooked since her death all those years ago.

I eagerly thumbed through the pages and found beautiful full page spreads of channel bottles, necklaces and hand written notes and receipts laid carefully on soft pink rose petals. The photographer, Mark Anderson had spent two years recording these items in the hope to capture an essence of the 'real' Mariyln, and perhaps find out vital information about how she died.

The story of how many of these almost throw away objects came to be rediscovered revolves around two filing cabinets containing many of Monroe's personal documents, which upon her death were put into the care of Inez Melson, Marilyn's business manager. Melson promptly began to destroy many of the more delicate items, while 'putting aside' an apparent 586 belongings including some of the cabinets papers. It is this collection that Mark Anderson had somehow discovered and then documented for Vanity Fair and a forthcoming coffee table book.

Image by Mark Anderson

Much contoversy has arisen since the article with many claims that while some of the documents were undoubtedly real many objects such as strings of pearls and a mink coat have no substantial proof that they ever belonged to Marilyn. Furthermore, on writing this post I have been able to find NO images of the said article to share with you, it even seems Vanity Fair has had a bout of amnesia and the relevant web pages have been lost while the coffee table book is yet to be published.

Image by Mark Anderson

However, the authenticity is not my main issue here, it is the overwhelming feeling of sensing a person through belongings that captured my imagination. And it didn't really matter if these items had once belonged to such a famous gorgeous person as Marilyn or not, it was the idea that they had that got to me. I loved the way, Anderson's photos had a story like feel to them, giving little snippets of information and insights into this very glamorous woman's (be she real or not) life.

Image by Mark Anderson

1 comment:

Kittie Howard said...

Lovely post! I remember looking at Marilyn on the cover and thinking I'd be in for a real surprise, only to be disappointed in the content, but delighted with the photos. The proposed coffee table book generated controversy here in the States then faded into nothing. I didn't know it hadn't been published. MM continues to be an enigma.