My Precious Skin
Normally they are hyper-perfect – the images and worlds in which anti-aging products appear. Not a single speck of grain is allowed to mar the quality of the pictures, and the faces of the women advertising the products are usually surprisingly smooth. In contrast, the first grainy images of My Precious Skin by Friedl vom Gröller allow us to anticipate that we have landed somewhere entirely different. The black and white film opens with a shaky pan across trees, meadows, and a country house, before the camera comes to alternatingly rest upon two women sitting at a garden table.
Cut to a shot of innumerable cosmetic products accumulated in the bathroom of the protagonist, Dian Turnheim. “Tonique douceur”, “anti-aging visage”, “eye contour gel” and “50+” can be read on tubes, little bottles, and jars which she subsequently also comes to use. In a visibly routine manner, the creams, lotions and serums are applied to face, neck and dekolleté, and delicately tapped around the eyes with her careful fingertips.
Friedl vom Gröller uses her camera to move in close on every wrinkle and produces very intimate situations when she films her protagonist applying cream to her face, legs and feet. Outdoors measures are taken to protect skin and hair from the sun before an expansive shot of the ocean provides relief from the concentration on various body parts.
Liberation is not only effected by the expansive view, but also by a pleasurable bath that joyously washes away the painstakingly applied creams.
Despite this humorous, (self-) ironic transition and knowing wink, in the end vom Gröller’s charming miniature never denies that in this world one is completely victim to the cosmetic industry and vulnerable to its promise of aging with beauty.
Translation: Eve Heller
Friedl vom Gröller