Against the colourful walls hang black-and-white photographs of celebrities from decades past. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Lucille Ball smile in candid shots and posed portraits.
These photographs are part of Burn with Desire: Photography and Glamour, a new exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the Ryerson Image Centre.
Many of the photographs included in the exhibition are shots from a 300,000 extensive photograph compilation – The Black Star Collection- that was donated to the Ryerson Image Centre in 2005.
Gaelle Morel, the curator at the Ryerson Image Centre and the Burn with Desire exhibit, says the photojournalistic shots from the Black Star collection were mostly of women glamorously portrayed.
VIDEO: Interview with Gaelle Morel on the Burn With Desire exhibit
“The more I was doing research, the more I was realizing that at one point, (the exhibit) would have to do with the representation of women in general.”
Across the hall on white walls, photographs and videos tell a different story. Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women is a different collection of photos that contrasts Burn with Desire’s conventional representations of beauty. Anti-Glamour depicts suppressed women around the world and aims to critique women’s roles in society.
Morel says that the photographs show that the representation of glamour usually involves “a female body, preferably young, preferably white.”
“The artists (of Anti-Glamour) wanted to show that glamour can be defined a bit differently in terms of gender, in terms of identity, in terms of age, in terms of pretty much everything.”
Morel says she hopes students are able to expand the “stable and fixed definition” of glamour.
“We need to start a conversation where we expand that (definition). Where we try to prove that (glamour) can be older, and we can be different. My hope is that it engages conversation.”
Both exhibits run from Jan. 21 to April 5 and are free to the public.