Photography: Jonathan Leder
Judging by the Polaroids currently on display at Castor Gallery on the Lower East Side, photographer Jonathan Leder has a type, and it’s buxom and babely. All of the models Leder has shot in nostalgia-evoking locations like wood cabins and wallpapered bedrooms are ridiculously sexy in the kind of genuine, unairbrushed manner that’s so rare to find. But a pre-“Blurred Lines”, pre-Gone Girl, pre-fame Emily Ratajkowksi, photographed in 2012, particularly stands out if for no reason other than her subsequent meteoric rise to the top of the fashion industry.
There’s something fascinating and surreal about looking at a person right before they are about to experience the defining moment of their life, because you know something they don’t. You know that it’s all going to work out. In a weird way, it’s a reminder that you too could be just on the cusp of making it big.
But if looking at the Ratajkowski shots, which were taken over a two day period for a Swedish magazine called Darius, feels a touch too intimate, that’s not for nothing. The supermodel has essentially disowned the images, saying she never gave Leder permission to publish them in his recent book Leder/Ratajkowski and sending a cease and desist letter to the gallery.
“This book and the images within them are a violation,” she tweeted on November 30. “These photos being used w/out my permission is an example of exactly the opposite of what I stand for: women choosing when and how they want to share their sexuality and bodies.” Leder maintains that he is within his rights to publish the photos.
They are beautiful pictures, but the reality that Ratajkowki isn’t okay with them being available for mass consumption makes it hard to look at them without feeling complicit in the subjugation of a woman trying to maintain control over how and when her body is viewed. But it’s unlikely that will stop legions of fans and rubberneckers from doing so anyway.