Self-taught artist, Melanie Pullen (born 1975) began her “High Fashion Crime Scenes” project after seeing a copy of Luc Sante’s 1992 book Evidence (1914-1919) about crime scen photos from the New York City Police Department. While the disturbing stories behind the pictures intrigued Pullen, she was more interested in the minute details: the material that made up the images and told a story. Prior to the mid-50s, the nature of criminal photographs was fundamentally different from their present, clinical form. Given the complexity of cameras earlier in the century, most crime scene photographers had both artistic and professional experience. With an eye for composition, lighting and drama, photographers like Eugene Atget, Alexander Gardner, Jacob Riis and Arthur Fellig (a.k.a. Weegee) produced crime photos that were artistic and documentary, evocative of tabloid illustrations or film noir. Inspired by such images, Pullen conducted extensive research in the LAPD archives that yielded a wealth of vintage sources with which to work. Drawn to the rich details and compelling stories preserved in the criminal records, she began re-enacting the crime-scenes, outfitting the “victims” (her selected models) in current haute couture and photographing them in her staged settings.
The series, “High Fashion Crime Scenes” was debuted by Ace Gallery Beverly Hills in May of 2005, soon followed by a hardcover book published by Nazraeli Press, featuring over 100 photographs that make up the series.
This is wild imagination indeed.