If you ever wondered what the love child of David Bowie, Marie Antoinette, and a sexy alien would look like, now you know. Lady Gaga is back just in time to save you from the winter doldrums, and she was born this way, y’all. Got that?
Just as the ice thawed for a few hours here in New York, Gaga released the cover of her forthcoming album “Born This Way” yesterday via Twitter with this statement: “It’s been in my heart for over a year. I’m so excited to share it.”
Shot by the British fashion photographer Nick Knight, the cover features exaggerated makeup that appears tame in comparison to the rest of the photograph. Though the image is black and white, one imagines the lip is a deep crimson or even a purple so dark as to appear black. The cat eye is brilliantly aggressive, near alien, almost reaching her hairline at its peak with a compelling shape under the eye that compliments some of the more grotesque elements of the photograph.
I use the word grotesque in the positive here as boney protrusions poke from under the skin like the tent poles of a circus tent. It’s deliberately antagonistic to the eye; you can feel the tension around the skin on her temples, forehead, or shoulders. (We first got a glimpse of this in the Bad Romance video. Remember those shower scenes?) Is it just me, or is Gaga trying to say something about body image and weight? It’s tempting to associate the boney protrusions with painfully thin runway models, but like any good performance art, it’s hard to tell. It’s not about the period at the end of the sentence, but about the sentence itself.
I wholeheartedly endorse Gaga. While all pop art is a form of performance art, hers feels genuine and born of an inner yearning of some kind, and I’m a willing victim to the visual and cerebral assault.
I feel our culture needs challenging mainstream imagery that stokes a reaction and leads us to think critically about the notion of beauty. Gaga has built her brand on challenging us in the most mainstream of places, most notably at the MTV Music Awards where she hung herself and bled through a white lace corset, so it seems fitting that she would use her album cover as her latest canvas. What do you think of the cover? Click through the slideshow for more Gaga, and tell us your thoughts below.