In the La La Land of Bling Bling

By Freddy Langer

23 February 2024

He loves cinema, says Miles Aldridge, and even before he mentions the list of his favourite directors, one has already guessed them. Hitchcock, Fellini, Lynch: Filmmakers all, from whom one believes they can recognise their works in any scene. In the light, in the composition of the image, or in a form of tension achieved solely by the dissecting gaze on the most mundane everyday objects. All of this shimmers as delicately as a watermark through Miles Aldridge’s photographs – but then the restraint ends. Because above all, he overlays the resounding colors of Pop Art. Primary colours mostly. Only occasionally a bit of neon, as vibrant as the lollipops in the kiosks of English beach resorts. But preferably red.


The bed becomes a abyss.


Red like ketchup, flowing between the shards of a shattered glass bottle over a tiled floor. Red like lips between which false, perfect rows of teeth bite into a real diamond ring. Red like the dough that a blonde rolls out bored in the kitchen to cut heart-shaped cookies. Red is always a signal. However, with Miles Aldridge, it does not signify a warning of danger but is to be understood as an invitation to definitely pay attention. The recent retrospective exhibition ‘Virgin Mary. Supermarkets. Popcorn’ at the Berlin Kunsthalle Fotografiska was commented upon by Aldridge with a notably reserved, British demeanor. On the other hand, he didn’t hide his very precise idea of himself as a ‘Creator,’ a creator, albeit, as he mentioned, on a smaller scale than the Almighty.

Aldridge began his career as a fashion photographer, especially for the Italian ‘Vogue,’ and those who examine his early images can’t help but recognize influences from Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. With aggressive undertones and the calculated play of a chilling sensuality. In the next moment, bright red high heels seem to be kicking into the face of a model lying on the ground. Or a woman disappears between the mattress and the end of the bed, as if a vortex is sucking her in, and only the long legs in black stockings protrude into the air.


The star becomes a saint.


He has also portrayed celebrities on assignment for magazines, and he, who usually plans his images down to the smallest detail, starts with drawings, has carpenters build custom sets in the studio, and coats with high-gloss lacquer whatever doesn’t shine brightly enough on its own, even ketchup. Suddenly, he has to make do with what is available on the spot. At least once, clichés were kind to him, and Donatella Versace surpassed even his boldest expectations when she posed for him on a red couch surrounded by red books under a lush Renaissance painting in her villa on Lake Como. More often, however, it’s just a piercing gaze he receives. Then, the director David Lynch looks into the camera with a furrowed brow and slightly squinted eyes, as if a serious confrontation is imminent. And the actor Michael Fassbender, in his lens, resembles the figure of a saint from a cheesy collectible card.



In the La La Land of Bling Bling


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