David LaChapelle's "Rape of Africa" is not supposed to sit well with you. The piece is the photographer's first official 'art' piece (not for a magazine), and it references Botticelli’s Venus and Mars while depicting many of the horrors endured by Africans, like diamond mining. This piece will be up for auction at Christies' "A Bid to Save the Earth" auction, April 22, the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, benefiting four nonprofit organizations: Oceana, Conservation International, the Central Park Conservancy and the National Resources Defense Council. Supporters are invited to participate online, in real time, via Christies LIVE™. View the electronic catalogue online starting April 8.
More a social justice piece than an environmental piece, this photograph is especially interesting because LaChapelle takes a serious stab at Damien Hirst's infamous diamond-crusted skull. The skull sits below the feet of a child in the photograph, and is deservingly reduced a symbol of the rape of Africa. Strangely though, Hirst, who first became known for his chopped-up-animals-cum-installations, is also contributing to the auction. Needless to say, he just doesn't strike me as the Earth-Day kind of guy, so I'll be interested to see what he contributes and has to say. Of course there are other, more deadly mining operations in Africa, like that of coltan in Congo, that has resulted in the deadliest conflict since WWII, and sitting beside Naomi Campbell are farm animals, which suggest the failure of programs like Oxfam and Heifer International as well as making the statement that, like domesticated farm animals, Naomi is a chattel. Across from Naomi sits a sleeping white man guarded by young African boys who will do his dirty work.
On what will be the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, bidders will vie for lots such as a private lunch with Vera Wang; Giorgio Armani evening ensembles and two tickets to Vanity Fair’s Oscars after party; his and her bespoke suits from Stella McCartney, as well as a private fitting with the designer; Girard-Perregaux watches; Valextra luggage; Harry Winston jewelry; David LaChapelle photography, and a bevy of other luxury items. Artists Damien Hirst and Keith Tyson have also donated original art for the event. Christopher Burge will drop the gavel during the auction and there also will be bidding via christies.com.
Special thanks to Lee Crater at Hint Magazine for the tip!