Stars of The Atrocity Exhibition: Elizabeth Taylor

Liz Taylor-Richard Avedon 1956
The Atrocity Exhibition. Entering the exhibition, Travis sees the atrocities of Vietnam and the Congo mimetized in the ‘alternate’ death of Elizabeth Taylor; he tends the dying film star, eroticizing her punctured bronchus in the over-ventilated veranda of the London Hilton, he dreams of Max Ernst, superior of the birds; ‘Europe after the Rain’; the human race-Caliban asleep across a mirror smeared with vomit.

J.G Ballard-The Atrocity Exhibition 1966

Elizabeth Taylor , the last of the old-style Hollywood actress, has retained her hold on the popular imagination in the two decades since this piece was written, a quality she shares (no thanks to myself) with almost all the public figures in this book…A unique collision of private and public fantasies took place in the 1960’s, and may have to wait some years to be repeated, if ever. The public dream of Hollywood for the first time merged with the private imagination of the hyper-stimulated 60’s TV viewer…our perception of the famous has changed-I can’t imagine writing about Meryl Streep or Princess Di, and Margaret Thatchter’s undoubted mystery seems to reflect design faults in her own self-constructed persona. One can mechanically spin sexual fantasies around all three, but the imagination soon flags. Unlike Taylor, they radiate no light.

Annotations-The Atrocity Exhibition 1990


25 thoughts on “Stars of The Atrocity Exhibition: Elizabeth Taylor

  1. Who wrote that annotation? Ballard? It’s an interesting observation but I don’t know that it’s true of today. Maybe because we have so many actors from all over the world in American movies…hmm…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmmm…the annotation is by Ballard in the eighties…so do we have stars that radiate light now? The previous excerpt about Marilyn Monroe refers to a banalisation of celebrity, which is even more true today. Makes you think anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not a good one to ask, lol. I don’t care about any of that I guess. Don’t really like or follow any celebrities but I bet there are others who would say there are stars like that now. We have more access to them now I guess. Twitter and the various Cons, etc. Before it was probably just exclusive interviews and scandals. So yeah, maybe it’s all banal now… hmmm(as you say) πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m teasing you, Cake. Your posts are always well thought out and interesting for far more than the naked skin.

        Liked by 1 person

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