/21 Crime

Melanie Pullen

High Fashion Crime Scenes

High Fashion Crime Scenes is a series I undertook for nearly a decade. For this series I took actual crime scenes, loaned to me from the Los Angeles Police Department and the LA County Coroner’s Office and recreated these images.

The idea for High Fashion Crime Scenes came to me from being exposed to several images of violent crime scenes in my teenage years. These images horrified and haunted me for a long time, as I was suddenly faced with my own immortality.

Several years passed and once again I came across another series of actual crime scene photographs. In contrast though, I was now entirely oblivious to the crime. I was only seeing the victim’s surroundings, what they were wearing, their hair and makeup, the wall paper, etc. After an hour or so of analyzing these surroundings – I realized that I had been looking at horrific images of violent deaths. This made me want to know what had happened to me between the first time seeing these violent images and the second time. Why was I so desensitized? Why didn’t I notice the violence? I realized that in the time lapse between seeing the crimes that the movies had grown far more violent, that advertizing was over-the-top, that the nightly news had reached new heights. The entire world was increasingly desensitized.

I decided at this moment that I would create High Fashion Crime Scenes. To create this series I mined through thousands of actual crime scene photographs. I worked with the Police and Coroner’s office to find the perfect crimes. Then I recreated them, often down to the last detail, but rather with high fashion and models dressed elaborately.

Ultimately the key to this series was to distract the viewer from the violence, to take them on this journey that I had. I play up the style, the colors, everything is highly cinematic, I exploit the victims in the way the nightly news does. The last thing the viewer is suppose to notice is the crime, it becomes fantasy. My goal being in the end the viewer realizes they were viewing real crime scenes, there was a real victim, but somehow they were distracted from the violence. It’s beautifully horrific.

For me this series is my playful examination of the media’s glamorization and over-indulgence in crime and societies ever growing desensitization.

After all we are all living in a sort of melodramatic fairy-tale.