‘Kanye, Juergen & Kim, Château d’Ambleville’ on display at Phillips Auction House
For ten days in mid-November, Phillips Auction House exhibited a controversial photo series ‘Kanye, Juergen & Kim, Château d’Ambleville’, which allowed the curious eyes of London’s in-the-know to view the voyeuristic photos firsthand.
Kanye acts as both stylist and subject in this addictive yet somewhat grotesque series that was taken for System magazine, while platinum-haired Kim passes her time relentlessly posing among the ruins of the 16th century château. Interspersed between Kim’s fleshiness and Kanye’s flashiness (diamond grillz, anyone?), the viewer can find Teller struggling across the French terrain with hiking sticks. The photographer is unsuitably dressed in a red puffer coat, barely-there running shorts, and acid pink trainers.
Kanye, donning fur coats and velvet hoodies, styles his wife in a flesh-toned bodysuit, a gold satin bra, boudoir stockings, and black suede Alaïa stiletto boots. In her second costume change, Kim dons a tight, see-through black turtleneck with black pleather underwear. There is something tragic about the embodiment of gratuitous excess that is juxtaposed against the presence of destruction, whispering to the viewer from Kim’s rubble throne.
Though the crude photos hint at an intersection between Ingres’ ‘La Grande Odalisque’ and a naïve entry in Marie Antoinette’s diary, there is also great intentionality in the images. Let us keep in mind that the trio are incredibly aware of their cultural cachet, and the resultant marketability of the images. If they wanted people to talk, they succeeded.
The photographs were exhibited unframed and pinned to the walls with privileged carelessness, yet the audience had best not be fooled: the entire series was priced at £200,000. It is hard to imagine anyone displaying the prints above their mantelpiece, yet the photos cannot be deemed irrelevant to pop-culture.