As I’ve just been questioned over the blade in my mouth again on Twitter, I thought I’d repeat a Facebook exchange I had with an old schoolmate, Chris. Chris never talks to me online, or indeed in person, so I was surprised to see he’d left the below comment:
I’m not being funny or anything Paris, but don’t you think that posing with a knife like that, in these times of such high rates of knife crime is in a little bad taste, after all don’t you believe in doing what’s right by people! Any way, hopr [sic] your well gal?
Below is my response. I have nothing to add to it:
Hiya Chris, I’m really good thanks, hope you’re ok hun. Perhaps it’s not clear from the head shot, but I was actually dressed as a sort of pirate here. I do see where you’re coming from regards bad taste… but then taste is an incredibly subjective thing. If I thought that any of my friends were likely to view knifecrime as glamorous or more appealing due to my profile picture, I’d agree with you. I doubt very much anyone would. Also, knives are not always weapons: this particular one has only ever stabbed cakes, vegetables and cooked chickens. I chose to represent myself in this way because, by taking this everyday kitchen object and using it in a new and unusual context, the meanings people place on it become completely transformed – transformation being something which fascinates me. By placing it where the words issue from, the knife now symbolises my “sharp tongue” my “razor blade smile” and also my ability to “dissect” and “cut to the heart of” things. Also, though I am actually quite vulnerable here, with the cold steel against my moist, delicate mouth-flesh, I am clearly not a victim, and evidently in complete control of the situation. Finally, and perhaps owing to this duality of confidence/tension, the image has an unavoidable sexual power; the knife now acting as a phallic symbol. The idea of the phallus as a knife, an instrument which has the power to cut – to castrate? – is also particularly relevant when you know the background of the model. I hope this helps.