A lot of things can be read into the original text of "the Adventures of Pinocchio" and even the watered-down version from Disney, but one thing is certain: it has a message, and that message is complicity or else! Its nineteenth century intent as an entry in the then new genre of children's literature was to illustrate the perils of children who don't behave and the hazards of lying, but the dire consequences of this puppet were so dark and violent, I am amazed that this is considered fodder for children.
Pinocchio is not a character or a subject I care much about, really, but for some reason, the idea of turning one of these shots from my recent shoot into a wooden figure kept coming back over the last few weeks until finally I gave in and made this image. The idea that someone controls you, dictates your movements, promises you transformation, well, you can see how much can be read into this character of Pinocchio.
I never held much stock in what convention tells us makes a "man." Likewise, I never much cared for the "real" world. I still don't. So I guess this all worked into this shot , starting with a boy/man who is made up of the same material as his surroundings, which, in a way, is a sort of defense mechanism, to hide away in a room or a box, away from the madding crowd. Once I had the space and the model covered in wood texture, I had to commit to the Pinocchio idea, but didn't want the classic strings and the classic lines of a model pretending to be a marionette. In fact, as it developed, the cables, all dark and ominous, seem to hold no sway over this puppet, as if they are powerless to control him. I did not wish to get too literal with the puppet idea, so I added just a few rather steam punk touches to the body to suggest a construct, but did not wish to completely obscure the model. Likewise for the "blue fairy" - that manipulative creature in the story that dangles the promise of becoming "real" like the figurative carrot in front of our wooden boy. I bought a very expensive, taxidermic butterfly last year for a photo prop, and it fell apart after two days, so I was glad to be able to use it one last time to serve as a reference to my "blue faery" without being too literal.
Lastly, I subtly changed the expression on the model's face to reinforce my concept that this Pinocchio, damaged from his experiences in the real world, is staying put, right where he is, mortality - no thank you. Fly away, blue fairy, and give your gift to someone else. There is value in being the wandering, willful spirit that this character was, and maybe he wanted to be a man someday, but the values of boyhood are not without their graces, and maybe becoming a "real man" is not the pinnacle he needs to strive for any longer.
My title comes from the debut album of U2, called "Boy" naturally, certainly a coming of age album, with the song "Electric Co." containing the words:
Boy, stupid boy
Don't sit at the table until you're able to
Toy, broken toy
Shout and shout - you're inside outBoy, stupid boy
(side note: the pears - simply a reference to the original story - Gepetto's meal of three pears early in the story. )
This is likely the last of my shots from this photo shoot. I say that knowing that there is always a chance that I will find something else down the road, but for now, this cycle feels concluded, and I must turn my attention to a new shoot next week with a new model I have not worked with before.