Robert Melee’s photos of his mother are lurid, disturbing, and brilliant


General consensus is that photographing your parents or children in erotic tableaus is taboo. That didn’t dissuade Leigh Ledare or Ryan Pfluger—nor, luckily, was Robert Melee much discouraged. 

In 1993 he began photographing his mother, Rose, in a variety of scenarios that were simultaneously perverse, tender, witty, and obscene. In many images, Rose looks like she just wandered off the set of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a leathery woman in pancake makeup and a fright wig. In others, she frolics carefree on rugged coastlines, cavorts around her kitchen in negligee, and strikes NSFW poses in a forest snowscape. 

The series radiates an unsettling, performative charm. To quote Collector Daily: “There is something undeniably wonderful about Rose in her oddball makeup…it’s disturbing, psychologically charged, and irreverently edge-of-crazy audacious. But what’s subtly surprising…is that it also has a layer of authentic affection that simmers underneath the obvious dark exaggeration. Mother and son are knowingly taking these risks together, and the memorable results jangle with that intimate tension.”

Get your freak on here.

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