Essay Proposal

Title of Research Project:

‘The Representation of Religion in the work of David LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles’

 Description of the subject to be investigated:

My research project will be investigating the representation of religion in the often seen as “controversial” work of LaChapelle and Pierre et Gilles. I think this is a relevant topic because religion has always been in art, but has not been shown through a 21st century mind frame that these photographers have. They both combine religion with sex, popular culture and glamour which raises questions about the role of religion in Western society. This will undoubtably lead to theories from Roland Barthes in regards to semiotics and individual interpretation, because of LaChapelle’s unwillingness to narrate the story, he leaves it to us. Wider issues that will arise from this are who then can be blamed for negative representation? the encoder or the decoder. Politics will also be bought up, both artists use religion as the untouchable, no government can have control over it.


Most of my sources for LaChapelles work will come from videos, as he is still working his presence online is huge, it gives me great quotations directly from the creator. For the section about individual interpretation I am going to send out selected images to a variety of people, teenagers, christians, atheists, older people, professional photographers and more, then uses these findings to help support my argument and futher support it with Roland Barthes. My knowledge of christianity will help as a source too, being bought up in a religious setting and being the daughter of a Sea cadet Chaplain will all act as experience for the essay. I also have a great knowledge on Ancient Roman religion from studying Classical Civilisation. For this reason I will stick to these two religions for the basis of my essay. I will try to gather a fair rounded amount of sources from books to videos to essays and more relevant social media sites.

Essay Plan / Schedule of work:

Some questions I want to look at are, is this really a fair judgement of religion? using photographers who are emerged in gay culture around the same time frame?

My plan is to add to the research about the photographers and then research a few of their most significant images. Find more theories based of representation of religion, and how the photographers culture is show through images.

22nd-23rd oct – come up with final essay title (after abandoning the last one)
24th-28th – continue gathering images, theory and articles, blogging comments as i go. also send out images asking people for their opinion on how religion has been represented.

29th – 31st – gather findings of peoples reactions. Analyse found text, select important quotes.

1st – 6th – pull together a paragraph by paragraph plan, and write introduction.

7th – 17th – write essay

17th – 23rd – proof read, make amendments

24th – hand in



Ardenne, Paul and Koons, Jeff. Pierre et Gilles: double je 1976-2000. London: Taschen, 2007.

Cameron, Dan. Pierre et Gilles. London: Merrell, 2000.

Currie, Nicholas. Pierre et Gilles. Cologne: Taschen, 1993.

Facciolo, Davide. David LaChapelle. Milano: Photology, 2005.

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. London: Vintage Books, 2000.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. London: Penguin books, 1979.


Buys, Erik. 2011. The Church of David LaChapelle. WordPress. [online]. Available from: [Accessed: 23rd October 2011]

Douaire, Pierre-Evariste. 2005. Pierre & Gilles. paris-art. [online]. Available from: [ Accessed: 23rd October 2011]

LaChapelle, David. 2010. Good Morning New York. [online video] July. Available from: [Accessed: 22 October 2010]

Somers Cocks, Anna. 2008. Jesus is my Homeboy – David LaChapelle. [online video] 15th october. Available from: [Accessed: 22nd October 2011]

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