Kills & Kisses

Bond Girls: Love and let die

“Kills & Kisses” is a journey into the Mythological world of James Bond. The project explores the mutual influence of the Bond character and his time, the changes in fashion, physique and the roles of men, women, and violence in society.

This part investigates the evolution of the image of the most desirable woman – the Bond girl —  from 1962 to now, these women that have become ubiquitous symbols of glamour and sophistication. 6 girls have been selected from each decade of Bond mythology, at least one girl from each film, and are arranged into similar poses wearing the fashion of the day, a highlight of red indicates those girls who died before the closing credits. Has the life of a Bond girl become more perilous? Is it safer to be a disposable pleasure than a meaningful pursuit?

The works are presented in the visual language of the religious iconographic traditions of Byzantium and ancient Russia. In 21st century western society film characters often become modern icons attracting an army of “new worshippers”. The cult of celebrity has usurped religious belief, saints are no longer idolized, a new set of icons has emerged - perfect in their fulfilment of own aspirations. Whereas Sunday church services were once a feature of cultural life now many cannot imagine a bank holiday without the re-run of a Bond film.

Just as in Byzantine iconography, where each colour has its own value and meaning, so is there a layering of symbolism within these works. The gold painted background represents both the neither here nor there of a nightless eternity and Jill Masterton’s death by gold paint in Goldfinger. Indeed Gold is a continuing theme throughtout the Bond world. Red is widely recognized as the colour of courage and sacrifice, in Christianity it is the liturgical color for the feast of martyrs, representing the blood of those who suffered death for their faith.

To highlight the iconic status of the characters their facial features have been removed. Despite their removal one can still recognise each incarnation of Bond and each Bond Girl. Defacing also serves to transfer the focus from the individual on to the qualities that capture the zeitgeist of their time such as changes in fashion and physique.

The Bond franchise shows no sign of decline, it continues to adapt and reflect the changes within society, holding a mirror up to our world and reflecting back the ideal….with a gold background. There will be more Bonds and he will be accompanied by more girls…

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