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Emotional Images On Body Dysmorphia, Weight-Loss Surgery, And Self-Acceptance

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For the artist Maria Raquel Cochez, her body is both her subject and medium; choosing to undergo and photograph 3 weight-loss surgery procedures, she catalogs a complex relationship with body image. For this series, titled “Life Performance,” and subsequent videos, paintings, and photographs, the artist courageously addresses the difficult ways in which women are expected to conform to physical ideals.

For “Life Performance,” Cochez relinquishes all control, surrendering both her body and her camera, leaving others to cut, transform, and document her as she undergoes a breast reconstruction and implant and gastric bypass. Each photograph poignantly blurs the line between performance and experience, boldly welcoming the public into a profoundly private emotional space.

Four years after “Life Performance,” Cochez presents “Belly,” a gorgeous video capturing the effects of surgery and life on her midsection. Seen floating in a full bathtub, her excess flesh is seen as touchingly soft yet powerful; isolated from the rest of her body, it seems to breathe independently, rising from the water and sinking back again. On the righthand side of the frame, a child plays with the female belly, innocently exploring the space that gave him life. He kneads it like bread, then strokes it carefully.

The work is painfully moving for the artist’s total surrender to her craft and audience; as viewers, we bear witness to her insides, to folds of her naked skin. For this reason, her impressive body of work seem less like an exploitation of the self than a miraculously intimate confessional. Despite their potentially painful content, her creations are strangely warm and generous; for example, in Life Performance No.1, romantic black and white images of her smiling face and her soft backside gently bookend the frighteningly colorful photographs of her surgery.

Ultimately, the work reads as a richly nuanced love letter to the human body, one to which all humans, regardless of experience, can relate. Take a look at Cochez’s paintings, videos, and photographs after the jump, including her uncomfortably, painfully seductive self-portraits of eating binges.

It is important to note that body dysmorphia—along with other mental- and eating-disorders—are much better covered by new healthcare legislature; especially with groundbreaking ACA regulations now taking effect. If you or a loved one are coping with such a disorder, please remember that there are options out there.

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Crafty Crows Build Nests Out of Stolen Coat Hangers

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Here at Beautiful/Decay, we don’t limit our features to art and design created by the human species. In large cities like Tokyo where there are few trees, birds may find it hard to come by nesting materials. Because of this lack, crafty crows have begun to use wire coat hangers to build their abodes, stealing them from nearby apartments. Crows’ nests are typically composed of interlocking twigs and some wire to create a sturdy structure for the birds’ eggs so it’s not hard to understand how hangers could be deemed appropriate materials by the crows. These wiry nests appear sculptural in their construction, their placements among tree branches marking a stark contrast between the natural and man-made. Crows are intelligent creatures and have been known to recognize human faces, bend wires into hooks in order reach food, crack open walnuts by dropping them from a height, and even memorize garbage truck schedules in order to track down food supplies. (via amusing planet)

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Joshua Abelow

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“My name is Joshua Abelow. It feels great to write my name. I love the way it looks in print. I like the way the “A” at the end of Joshua lines up with the “A” at the beginning of Abelow.  Like This: JOSHUA ABELOW” – Joshua Abelow writes about admiring his own name and his preference to use “Joshua” over “Josh”. Abelow writes often. He makes art, and most importantly lives life often. His works are dark, yet whimsical. Part autobiographical and occasionally asserting historical references, Abelow explores the process of making art and living with the pressures to perform as an artist, a friend and a lover. Works often make fun of themselves  and thrive on the failure of existing as beautiful hallmarks for all of art history’s future. If his essay “I Don’t Want To Name Name’s” is in fact honest, he started to make art for the right reasons, and will continue to do so for a long time. Another recommended read would be “DOINGDEKOONING” where he asserts the relevance of Paul McCarthy’s “Painter“. The importance of viewing both Abelow’s writings and visual works lies in understanding Abelow’s humble, honest  and somewhat naturally naive philosophy on life and the depth that exists within works far more involved than the headlines they announce.

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Mezzetty

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Mezzetty’s images draw on everything that was good about the seventies, like Patti Smith and Polaroids, and injects it into each and every one of their dreamy photographs. Those stoic babes and fuzzy lenses are like squinting into the sun on the last day of summer, often bittersweet, but always beautiful.

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Hassan Rahim’s The Air Above This Ground

Hassan Rahim lives and works in Los Angeles. He has just concluded a solo exhibition at HVW8 in L.A. entitled The Air Above This Ground. Rahim has a knack for transforming childhood memories into conceptual work that pays tribute to the past while relaying thoughts on the present and future. His photography, collage and mixed media pieces are heavily rooted in 90’s NBA nostalgia. Themes of fame, struggle, life and death are all explored with re-appropriated and combined imagery. From the press release: “…Conversant with pre-existing works–Rahim’s “The Big Three” owes as much to Wallace Berman’s “Untitled” (hand holding a cassette) as it does to Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, and Scottie Pippen—his pieces build a bridge from art-historical zones to realms of culture that are usually entirely claimed by advertising.  There is a reclamation of imagery happening, the sports Hero comes back home to art. One is reminded of classical sculptures of discuss throwers, or of the fact that Nike was originally the Greek Goddess of Victory.”

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Vladimir Kato

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Vladimir Kato grew up in the urban environment of Yugoslavia in the 1980’s, influenced by the anarchy, graffiti and punks that inhabited his city and surroundings. Much of his imagery comes from comic and pop artists of the time. After moving to Canada, he gained an education from The Interpretive Illustration and Classical Animation Programs at the Sheridan College of Art and Design . He is now an artist, illustrator, and cartoonist for several recognized magazines and clothing companies. His new show examining wild animals, entitled “Wilderness,” opens June 4th at the Show & Tell Gallery in Toronto, Canada.

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Elvira ‘t Hart’s Laser-Cut Garments

Elvira ‘t Hart is a fashion designer who creates garments directly from the preliminary process of the sketch. Using a laser cutter she allows the intricacies of a simple line sketch to be realized in a physical garment. In her own words, “A lot of details contained within the first sketches are lost during the process of designing and executing clothing. By literally creating clothing patterns from the lines of sketches or sketching the patterns of clothing and cutting this out by laser, new shapes or suggestions of shapes are created. The clothing takes characteristics from the sketches: outlying lines, lines that trail off into nowhere and empty or unfinished areas. An image is reduced to lines, planes and areas which do not have to be fully formed or finished in order to portray ther ultimate meaning…” (via)

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Forever Young: Photographer Muir Vidler Celebrates The Age-Defying Antics Of Britain’s Senior Citizens

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Muir Vidler‘s admiration for individuals who are challenging the status quo first began in a popular club called Love Muscle in London. It was there that he was inspired to start a long running, charming photographic series called Rebels Without A Pause. About people (usually senior citizens) who are refusing to ‘act their age’ and are defining their life on their own terms, the series is full of wonderful spirit and charm.

This dance club was where Vidler met Adrian Delgoffe – a man in his late 60s, wearing leather pants and a leather harness, dancing by himself. The photographer remembers applauding this man, who was older than Dad, out at night, living large, instead of being dormant in front of the TV at home. Vidler reflects:

Adrian got me thinking about people who don’t let their age define who they are, what they wear, how they act – people that make the world a more interesting and fun place, a better place. I wanted to shoot some portraits that celebrated those people, the people that never grew up. (Source)

The British born photographer tracks down interesting individuals and arranges photo shoots, usually in their private homes, or at a location of their choice. He has met several young-at-heart characters, who, in their old age are proudly covered in tattoos – and are adding more still. Isobel Varley for example, holds the Guinness Book Of Records as ‘The World’s Most Tattooed Senior Woman’ and shows no sign of slowing down: since being photographed, she has acquired many new penis tattoos on her face.

Vidler has photographed circus performers, nudists, veteran rock n rollers, old bikers, die hard roadies, leather fetishists and ‘slave owners’, Elvis impersonators, and the first openly gay skinhead. You can see his full collection of portraits and other surreal experiences on his Instagram account here.

Via Feature Shoot

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