I found this image floating about on Tumblr, devoid (as usual) of any attribution. It features, I believe, a tableau of three live models, although at this level of photographic detail I cannot swear they aren’t exhibition-quality wax figures. But what’s going on? Is it a bordello lineup, an exhibition or performance, what? Looking closely at the details in the full version only multiplies the questions. Who or what are the larger-than-life heroic statues on each side of the stage, and who is the overdressed young beauty looking back through her veil at the camera? Questions, so many questions!
So I run the basic provenance research trapline, and what do I find? Nothing! No, what I find is worse than nothing, because there on Flickr is a different photo of a very similar (and yet bizarrely different) scene. This version is notable for the naked man (statue? mannequin?) standing where the veiled woman was sitting in the first photo, and for what look like German university/academic captions that seem to have more to do with bureaucratic branding than actual useful captioning:
If the stances or facial expressions of the three women have changed at all during the foreground scene change, I can’t make it out. Skilled models or even more skillful sculpture? More basically, WFT is going on with these tableaux? I did my research and all I got was more questions. So it goes, some days…
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