Malerie Marder’s powerful images of nude women become that much more provocative when a viewer learns that the subjects are sex workers. Made over the past five years in Amsterdam and Rotterdam Marder sought to capture the diverse population of women in The Netherlands who support themselves and their families through legal prostitution.
The women are, in her words:
“part hallucinatory and part real, [they] intrinsically have a different relationship to their bodies…Women’s bodies hide as much as they reveal. I thought of Aphrodite, working single mothers, odalisques, adulterers and enigmas…The thought of how they got there was deeply troubling. My camera was a passport into a gray, hidden world; the result of a liberal society where free will is a question mark.”
Anatomy is currently on view at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in New York. Clearly referencing the physicality of the work the exhibition title also plays off Oxford scholar Robert Burton’s encyclopedic tome that was inspired by his recurring bouts of depression, The Anatomy of Melancholy.
With this body of work Marder manages to capture her female subjects as simultaneously objectified and exposed, as well as individualized and empowered, albeit in a unique way. Their stories are written in their expressions, which are equally as compelling as the fact that they are nude. Hung salon style, the show should not be missed and runs through December 21.