So when do Mansbridge’s kids get G&M puff pieces?

Canada may not have celebutards on the scale of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, but we still get treated to idle puff pieces about the offspring of CanCon icons, like Caitlin Cronenberg.

When Toronto photographer Caitlin Cronenberg (yes, of those Cronenbergs) talks about her latest project, it’s clear just how attached she’s become to it – but the affair has run its course.

“I’ve loved every moment of the three years we’ve spent together, but I really feel like it’s time to take leave of each other,” she says of the collection of 136 nude photographs she’s assembled for a book, entitled POSER.

The book is the first major assembly of works by the burgeoning photographer and daughter of acclaimed filmmaker David Cronenberg. The black and white portraits evoke a stark naturalism, baring every mole, freckle, wrinkle and wisp of hair.

But they are less about nudity, Cronenberg says, than the subject’s interaction with the camera, and with the photographer. For most subjects, this was their first time posing nude before a camera.

— James Bradshaw, “Caitlin Cronenberg: armed with naked ambition“, Globe & Mail, April 14th, 2009.

Predictably, the Globe‘s comments are full of outrage at the fawning media coverage.  I am not outraged so much as mystified.  Ms. Cronenberg has some talent as a photographer—certainly more than I’ve accrued in a couple of years of digital photography—but a brief review of her online portfolio doesn’t fill me with much confidence that her book of monochrome nudes will be a landmark of virtuoso talent unleashed.

To be fair I think there are a few portfolio photos that are well-executed, or at least semi-interesting.  This one, for example, of Canadian actor Stephen McHattie.  Or this tough-guy image of her more famous father, for Eye Weekly. This quartet of photos featuring David and Caitlin Cronenberg are probably my favourite, first because they hint at ordinary, recognisable familial goofiness; second because the elder Cronenberg seems to be channeling Jason Mewes as Jay (as in Jay & Silent Bob).  Finally, this promotional photo for Toronto Stories makes good use of a sunset and the city’s skyline.  I also like this juxtaposition of the model’s body with the mannequin bodies.  Otherwise, the rest are unremarkable.  Pretty images, but nothing you won’t see done on a higher budget with better lighting in GQ or Vogue.

Now contrast those fairly ordinary images with the sumptuous worlds created by James Meakin and Michael Kelley.  Worlds of difference.

The sad thing about the Canadian media hothouse isn’t so much that it keeps its lidless gaze focused on the same old CanCon icons (and their offspring).  It is that so much of the ouput lauded with boundless praise is, in the final estimate, so terribly mediocre.  If we must have a culture industry crammed to the rafters with cozy, media-fuelled nepotism, is it too much to ask that they generate premium product?

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