Monday, April 9, 2018

Snow White 'Trapped' Inside Her Pop Culture Depiction

Detail from Trapped: Snow White by Super A
"Isn't it just safe and cosy to stay trapped in our reality?" - Stefan Thelen (aka Mr. Super A)

There is a relatively new series of paintings (including some sculpture too) titled Trapped, which include a very interesting look at Snow White, as well as some other characters in pop culture. 
Created by the Netherlands-based artist who signs his work and goes by the moniker Super A, he's challenging his viewers to take another look at the shortcuts we take visually in pop culture - something we should be reminded to do often. The idea is to "explore the truth behind fantasy, slicing through pop culture figures to examine the reality that lays at their core."*

So let's do that a little. Let's explore these images and see what emerges. Please note - none of these comments or conclusions are endorsed by the artist. They are musings on the observations of the team in the Fairy Tale Newsroom, quite late one night. We beg your indulgence as we deconstruct things a little.

Each figure, including Snow White and the creatures around her, has its familiar, pop-culture-iconic design, unfurling like a layered ribbon, to reveal a realistic core. This ribbon is not ripped or torn, but instead cocoons the core inside, clearly waiting to rewrap itself and hide glimpses of its truth inside at any moment. Even once the core is revealed, the wrapping stays, and remains the dominant impression and image.

We find it interesting that Snow White's "inner reality" is not only the classic blonde princess (posed and wistful, suffering in silence, waiting, innocent and untouchable yet likely to be fed to dragons) but is also very reminiscent of Botticelli's Renaissance women, particularly Venus (from The Birth of Venus) and his 'La Primavera' (Spring) Maidens. It's also worth noting that many early illustrations of Snow White (including Disney's own development for the 1937 animated film) had Snow White shown as a blonde.

The clothing of the revealed Snow White is worth commenting on too, though someone with a better grasp of the romantic-fashion details of pearls, gauze skirts and wrapped bodice would be better suited to discuss symbolic parallels, however, the allusion to innocence - the "White" in Snow White - is still loud and clear.

It didn't escape our notice that she's settled on straw. With straw having many meanings in fairy tale and myth we have to wonder: Is she sitting on unprocessed gold?  Is she representative of the basic building material of all the pop-cultural masks that she helped lead the way in, specifically with regard to Disney and the US American view of this type? Or is she about to go up in flames? 

The propped backdrop, like a setting for a photo shoot, clearly indicates the construction of a specific scene - the beauty and life 'frozen' in time. The eyes of the animals in this scene stare out at the viewer too. They are also frozen, as if caught in headlights, unable to move. Poised with tension as these creatures are, you find yourself wishing they could get up and walk away, that they could be free. If only Snow White weren't so resigned to her role here, her eyes unseeing of their reality, only focusing on her unrealized dreams...

That's what we see here. What do you see? 

(We'd love to hear your own impressions in the comments, even if they're vastly different - or even opposite, to ours. Remember art is subjective.)    
The series intends to address our skewed perception of reality through easily digestible cartoons, demonstrating that there can be no objectivity when it comes to our daily view of the world. A certain lens is always employed, a myth disguises the harsh truths. (FTNH Ed.: emphasis in bold is ours)
“Nowadays the most dominant myths we have embraced as an warm blanket of truth are liberty, property and individualism,” said Super A. “We tend to see these as absolute objective truths which suit the best interests of all humanity. But aren’t we just trapped within our cozy reality? And if it’s cozy… Should we even dare to break free?” (This Is Colossal)
Two pieces in the series** were shown in Galerie Droste in Paris from February 15th to the 27th, 2018, at the "Art is where the heart is Vol. 2" exhibition: Snow White and Pierrot.

Those interested in the fairy tale-like character of Pierrot from Commedia dell'arte and ballet will find it interesting that the Ronald MacDonald character reveals his inner persona as being Pierrot - that of a sad, pining, broken-hearted romantic, a fool and the butt of many jokes. You can see a 360 rotation of that amazing sculpture HERE.
On display at Galerie Droste in February 2018 - art by Super A

* Source: This Is Colossal
** The series includes characters: Mickey Mouse, Tweety, Donald Duck, Snow White, Ronald MacDonald/Pierrot, Garfield, while Thumper and Bambi are included in the Snow White scene.


  1. This is one of my favorite fairy tale art pieces I've ever seen!

  2. I love this concept! But what you said about the "real" Snow White being so traditional/classical has gotten me thinking...was that intentional on the artist's behalf? Because I don't see how that portrayal is any more "real" than a cartoon, necessarily. It takes more than realistic proportions to make a story that reflects reality (not that Disney's Snow White is the best example of that...)

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