Melani de Luca – Post-Butt, The power of the image


Onomatopee, ISBN-13: 978-9491677700, English, 176 pages, 2016, Netherlands

What is the real cultural and social value of female buttocks in our image-inflated contemporaneity? Something we take for granted as a sexual attraction and an allusion has more meanings and nuances in its pervasive use on mass and social media. The author’s thesis is that the butt is more contemporary than other sexual characteristics, and it has especially been pushed by online virality. Which is plausible if we think about the endless battle with the Facebook automatic filters for nudity, and how buttocks are usually more easily allowed, or about the ‘belfie’ (butt selfie) term, accepted in spoken and written language. And in the immense vastness of online erotic pictures, which the author underlines are continually shifting the line dividing ‘porn’ from ‘not porn’, we can find that a lot of controversial images with buttocks as the primary element are still considered ‘not’. With the first one written (printed) on the back part of worn female underwear, the book provides six visually rich chapters. The texts are altogether an intriguing excursion through society’s perception and toleration of being exposed to butts, and its strategic visual use and significance. The iconography is made of extracts from celebrities’ Instagram accounts, screenshots from hip-hop and pop videos, as well as from classic movies and implant surgery. All the pictures are printed in black and white, flattening the respective programmed aesthetics and accentuating the recurring similarities, illustrating the study in a careful and consistent way.