The Belladonna Concept
Belladonna or deadly nightshade is a perennial herbaceous plant that produces toxic berries that if ingested can cause hallucinations delirium and sometimes death. In Italian, belladonna means beautiful woman, however historically women who wanted to look more attractive and seductive used the juices of the berry cosmetically as an eye drop to enlarge the size of the pupil. The use of the toxic belladonna as an eye drop resulted in visual distortions, increased heart rate and prolonged use caused blindness. In folklore, the belladonna plant was combined with opium (by witches) to produce an ointment to help them fly. This flying ointment encouraged hallucinatory dream-like states, a twilight sleep similar to a pain-killer which was used in the past on women in childbirth and was also believed to be used by Queen Victoria.
The aim of the Belladonna project was to appropriate the aesthetic of the glossy fashion magazine by reconstructing the standardized image of women used to reflect market mechanisms. Collecting images of women from magazines posing for fashion and cosmetic advertising campaigns I wanted to produce a disruption to the original image/concept that allowed a contradiction to the original identity.