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FORM Gallery: Alvia Urdaneta’s spin on the femme fatale

By Katie Webb Arts & Entertainment Editor


“Guys like that aren’t afraid to kill for what they want,” said Alvia Urdaneta.

Urdaneta titled the exhibit “Homme Fatale,” for its clever play on words of the mysterious and dangerous archetypal female character of Old Hollywood. It debuted in the Form Gallery on Nov. 19.

Inspired by men of power, from Kanye West to Marilyn Manson, the photography major wanted to created a photo series that emphasized the fatal attraction of her subjects, everyday guys. The men Urdaneta photographed each have their own seductive style, and she worked to capture their allure in a natural way.

“I told them, ‘I’m going to photograph you, I just want to shoot a more iconic you,’” said Urdaneta.

Influenced by fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti’s photo series “Rise Above,” Urdaneta recreated his work with her own striking photo series of masculine male models contrasted with soft, colorful lights.

“The colors [Sorrenti used] are really light, so I wanted to take it to a new level,” said Urdaneta.

Casting vibrant blues and hot pinks on the models, Urdaneta challenged herself and the subjects to force the killer instinct to come through the lights.

Dan Caputo - Photo by Alvia Urdaneta

Though he is wearing a leather jacket, the universal uniform of a tough guy, Danny Caputo’s rough-and-tumble persona manifests more so through his fighter stance.

“[He’s] an MMA fighter. So for him I had him flat out say, ‘I’m a boxer, this is who I am,’” said Urdaneta.

Coaxing the killer instinct out her men, Urdaneta acts more like a coach revving her subject up for a few rounds. Dark shades obscure much of Caputo’s face. If he tilted his head, a shiner would likely be revealed.

Model Alex Cassetti embodies the strong-but-silent type, communicating the mystique of a Homme Fatale. Cassetti’s shoot was challenging at first. In order to get the model relaxed and in his own element he put on headphones and listened to his own music.

“I let him have his intimacy with his music and then I just photographed him reacting with it,” said Urdaneta. “He might be shy, he might look quiet, but that’s not going to take him away from what he wants.”

Urdaneta uses an intimate style when framing her subjects as well. The images are 36 inches by 24 inches tall, creating another level of power. But the sizeable prints are poetically juxtaposed with a close-up range. Though all the models were over six feet tall, Urdaneta didn’t use their height, an obvious symbol of power. Instead, she got close enough to make the viewer feel as if they are being exposed to a private side of the model.

Matt Aponte photographed by Alvia Urdaneta

Of all the fatal men, Matt Aponte’s photos are the most sensual. The model is inked from his chest to his upper arm. The photos highlight his tattoos. Aponte has his hand softly placed on his chest, an anatomical heart inked there. His head is bowed down, slightly turned to the side. The gesture is open, but not overtly vulnerable. The model is still in control despite seeming off his guard as he is looking away from the camera.

“All of the guys I chose to photograph are fatales to me, and Matt is a great example. He is a bad ass,” said Urdaneta.

The pink light is cast over his face and body, but the way she posed him, the “suave” essence she portrayed, pushes through the light just as she had hoped for.

The “Homme Fatales” intimate men with devil-may-care-attitudes will be on display in Calkins 117 until Nov. 22.


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