“My manager is telling me that they're going to break glass on my head and my leading man's a dog,” Carolyn Murphy, who has been a model for Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli, and Estée Lauder, told the Web site Nowness. “I'm like, ‘That's it?’ I was so sure I'd have to take my clothes off.” No, she is not talking about some kind of secret initiation ritual or sadomasochistic photo shoot, but rather her starring role in a video directed by Ryan McGinley — that photographer of nude, sun-dappled youths who makes us all nostalgic for road trips we never took, caves we never explored — exclusively for Nowness, the luxury lifestyle site.
The short film, Entrance Romance (it felt like a kiss), was shot on a Phantom camera at an astounding 1,500 frames per second, intimately capturing Murphy’s facial expressions, which remain remarkably serene considering that she has her teeth licked by a dog (let’s just say “it felt like a kiss” because it was one) and has a glass bottle and goldfish bowl smashed on her head. The model, who looks like a young Kim Basinger, showcases the styles of Alexander Wang, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, and Wolford while she has a goldfish languidly flop down the side of her head and as she smilingly sprays WD-40 into the flame of a lighter.
Earlier this year, McGinley made a film featuring Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland in which the steely-eyed actress frolicked through fields and forests, crawled around caves, and waded into the ocean at sunset. McGinley's videos serve as exhilarating complements to his still works, building out the fantasy worlds of which his photographs offer only a tantalizing glimpse. They make his alternate realities seem that much closer, yet still just beyond our reach, forcing the viewer to confront how easily he or she is seduced by something that is, in truth, only a carefully constructed, fictional object of desire.
While the Swinton video alludes to McGinley’s early romping road-trip photographs and his “Moonmilk” series, Entrance Romance shares the feeling of intense concentration found in his “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” portrait series, shown at New York's Team Gallery earlier this year. The opening reception of that show proved so popular that it had to be shut down by the police and fire departments.
Unlike the wild scene one encountered at Team Gallery that rowdy night, however, McGinley's new film, with its soothing om-heavy music by indie darling Benjamin E. Morsberger and its creamy peach and buttercup backdrops, leaves one calm. Perhaps that is because the woman getting glass broken over her head looks so relaxed. Or because we have all become inured to seeing things get smashed or shot with high-speed cameras. Or because there is no need to get worked up, since, as Murphy explained, none of the goldfish were hurt in the making of the film.
Watch the video below or at the Nowness Web site.