Complex Images

How do images hold meaning in our daily lives, and why do we perceive them the way we do? 


This image is by Cuban artist Erik Ravelo from his photography series “Los Intocables” (The Untouchables.)

The signifiers in the image show a young child attached to a clown’s back. Due to the positioning of the arms and the way the child’s body hangs, they appear to be crucified against the back of the clown. The clown on the other hand, holds similarities to Ronald McDonald. I also think it’s important to note the child’s face is blurred out, and they are overweight.

This image could mean a range of things, but let’s explore the obvious first – the combination of the overweight child with no apparent identity, the use of Ronald McDonald, and the fact the child is being crucified has very obvious connotations of childhood obesity. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from 2011-12, 25.3% of children aged 5 – 17 were either overweight or obese. This image could very may well be a case of life imitating art.

Or, it could also reflect on the loss of childhood innocence. In 2004, a study was conducted on the bullying behaviour of nearly 6000 boys and girls aged between 11-16, and the results showed that overweight and obese children were far more likely to be victims and perpetrators of bullying. If overweight children are victims of bullying from a young age, or feel the need to victimise others, does this point to a loss of innocence? If McDonald’s is contributing to the issue of childhood obesity are they to be held responsible for the loss of innocence?

I believe this image can be read in more than one way, but there are no positive connotations. The denotation of the entire image has a very morbid vibe – the use of the crucifixion in itself brings to mind an entire history of intense events. As childhood obesity is such a current issue I believe the image is easier to read and the connotations point to one very obvious conclusion that can be read across many societies and cultures.

Sources: (2016). Los Intocables : Erik Ravelo. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2016]. (2016). 4364.0.55.001 – Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2016]. (2016). Obesity Action Coalition » BULLYING, Bullycide and Childhood Obesity. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2016].


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One thought on “Complex Images

  1. himynameismara says:

    I love your choice in complex image. The artwork is as you said extremely confronting but in a good way as the image forces the viewer (audience?) to question their own beliefs and values. One thing you didn’t mention in your analysis of ‘Los Intocables’ was the fact that the Ronald Macdonald figure was faced towards the wall and could not be seen. My interpretation of this is that corporations such as Macdonalds deliberately choose to ignore the (often) dire consequences of their product on the people who consume it. The figure has both literally and figuratively turned its back on the obese child. Great post, I enjoyed discovering other ways of interpreting the image.


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