Saturday, 10 December 2011

Jezebeth: development and symbolism

Photo, concept, manipulation, frame design: GothicNarcissus
Model: Giulia Biletta
Styling: GothicNarcissus and BriarRose
Hair, make up: BriarRose
Additional resources: Amptone-stock (textures), BrokenWing3dStock (wings), Dracoart-stock (scorpion tail)

I found out about a Demon called Jezebeth thanks to a friend of mine who played a character on a RPG who was possessed by Jezebeth, the Demon of Lies and Falsehood. Even though this was pretty much all that I could find about the Demon itself (the sources are very scarce), I sort of liked it mostly because of the name and decided it would be one of my Infernal Lords.
Sounds quite neat and easy, doesn’t it? Hell, no. Not only did I have nothing but a single line with no further explanation about Jezebeth, but this Demon was “specialised” in something totally abstract and difficult to represent. On the one hand, this gave me total freedom on how to portray it, on the other I was a bit frustrated for not having much to work on. It was a very though challenge, which I decided to accept anyway.
The only thing I had clear about this Demon from the beginning was that its name sounded very feminine, so I decided it would be a girl (back then there were too few Ladies in the series). At first, I thought she’d have to look very mischievous, so I decided to cast my dear friend ContessaNera with her badass pin up fringe for the role. She wasn’t very thrilled at the idea and, after some pressure, I decided to change her role into one I knew she would love as a linguist: Agares, the Demon of languages.
An early draft of ContessaNera as Jezebeth.
In the meantime, Jezebeth stayed in a limbo waiting to be recast, but at that point I just had no ideas at all and focussed on other Demons. Then I found Giulia, a friend of BriarRose’s. Looking at her photos, I got immediately fascinated by her sweet, innocent looks and decided it was perfect for the Demon of Falsehood: what could be more deadly deceiving than a tender-looking monster? And that was the easiest part.
The though thing now was, how to visually represent the actual concept of falsehood? The right idea came up while I was talking about it with my mother, DamaInNero: a scorpion. The scorpion can be seen as one of the most mischievous animals, as it spends its life undercover, remains hidden but is always ready to attack at the right moment. I could very well recycle the old cliché of the Devil with a tail (a total novelty for my series) making a good-looking one. Insect wings to complete the supernatural visuals, and the general idea was finally there.
On the other hand, when I was at home for the sumer break, I enjoyed watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot on television, which revamped my huge love for the Tweinties and Thirties’ aesthetics. This made me think, what about doing a Twenties-looking Jezebeth? Why not? I’m quite fed up with Victorian aesthetics and such an experiment would bring some novelty to the project. Also, as I knew I would most likely meet Giulia together with BriarRose and the latter is the most gifted make up artist I’ve met and had the pleasure to work with: the thing could work perfectly. I talked with the girls, they loved the idea and we stared thinking of when to schedule the shooting. Side note: I truly have to thank BriarRose for making such a magnificent work with the hairstyle and make up, she really made the difference!
It’s also worth mentioning that the circumstances of this work were quite unique: all my previous attempts to do more than one Infernal Lord at a time (like for instance in the same trip) didn’t work. If I arranged more than one shooting, some of the models (if not all) could not come in the end. This time I also shot Kobal, like, an hour later and then went off to do more shooting with both models; so, apparently the “curse” put on my project took a day off, which I really loved.
I wrote about almost all the symbolism of this work, but I still have to say that Jezebeth holds a fan because women used to cover their mouth with them when they were gossiping, so it represents idle and malevolent talking. Also, I wanted Jezebeth to have an ambiguous, malicious smile to complete the whole work, and Giulia did it perfectly. The seal I used (yes, there is a seal, you just have to look for it) is that of Bune, which I chose because it reminds of an insect or an arachnid, reprising the scorpion motif.
As ContessaNera took red away with her, I didn’t have a main colour in my mind for this photo and I eventually chose purple taupe because it matched the original hue of the photo. Choosing the theme-song was another difficult part and I changed my mind several times over the past months. Eventually, when the scorpion idea stung (pun intended), I opted for Scorpion Flower by Moonspell featuring Anneke Van Giersbergen, for quite obvious reasons.

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