Captured In Mid-Air Lilly McElroy Throws Herself At Men

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The title of Lilly McElroy’s photo series “I Throw Myself at Men” could not be more literal. The photos, taken by her partner in the project, capture her mid-air as she lunges at various men. She throws herself into the air with abandon and trusts that these strangers will catch her. It’s an act of immense bravery captured on film. No, she’s not saving lives or fighting demons, but McElroy is risking rejection and public humiliation in the name of art, and that takes a strength of conviction that I find breathtaking.

Initially, McElroy arranged the photo sessions using Craig’s List, but found that the spontaneity of going to a bar, asking a physically large man to participate by trying to catch her at the very last moment, letting the bartender know what was happening, and then tossing herself in the air resulted in better images. The other bar patrons weren’t in on the project—the sight of the airborne McElroy and the flash of the camera were the signals that something was going on.

“I am, at the moment, part projectile and part foolish romantic. These images are documents of a hopeful and violent gesture, a demand that the possibility of a connection exist. The men often look terrified or at least slightly surprised. My role as aggressor is clear and I think my leaps acknowledge the basic human desire for contact.”

The awkward position of her body, the stoic tension of the male catcher, the illuminated bar scenes—all work together to make a captivating yet uncomfortable tableau. When they’re pictured, it’s the onlookers that make this series for me, though. Outside of the art making they smirk and gape—McElroy’s unexpected grand gesture of connection misunderstood and unappreciated. This spectacle of literally throwing herself at men mimics the small, sad desperations of women figuratively throwing themselves at men. By exaggerating the impulse, McElroy regains the upper hand. It is a supremely feminist performance, one that takes chances but never relinquishes power.

“The photographs, videos, and installations that I produce, while trying to interact, acknowledge the possibility of failure — that someone might not catch me, that a connection might not be made. It is that possibility that keeps things interesting. In the end, I want to make the viewer laugh, but I want them to understand that there is more at stake, that everyone is implicated – including me.”

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Willeke Duijvekam Beautifully Documents The Lives Of Two Transgender Girls For Six Years

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For six years the Dutch photographer Willeke Duijvekam followed the lives of Mandy and Eva, documenting their inner and outer attempts to align their sex assignments at birth with their gender identity — both girls were born as boys.

“Willeke Duijvekam reveals how for both girls the radical transformation into self-confident young women was chiefly an internal process. Her subdued photographs show how Mandy and Eva are absorbed in their everyday activities, or in their own thoughts. They are two remarkably normal girls — the one more vivacious, the other quieter — who do nothing other than live according to the dictates of their feelings.” (Source)

Duijvekam presents this series as an ingenious photo book, Mandy and Eva. The best designs enhance the subject matter, bringing new interpretations and depth to the work without taking over the narrative. In Duijvekam’s book, the subtle photos of the two transgender girls are incorporated into an interleaved book. In the video of the book, the pages are separate but related, each girl always present in the other’s spreads, advancing and retreating at the turn of a page. It is a masterful match of form and content. The book progresses backward through time, reversing the expected progression and reinforcing that these are two girls. The bodies that they were born into are much less important than the bodies in which they have become themselves.

“In my work I am guided by what moves and surprises me. … Ideas for projects are constantly unfolding and possibilities reveal themselves around every corner. The trick is to be open enough to recognize them the moment they appear and driven enough to pursue them. Diversity is what draws me to the people I meet, but at the same time I’m fascinated by our similarities.”

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The History Of Military Uniforms From The 11th Century To The Present

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Huscarl, Battle of Hastings, 1066

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Mounted Knight, Siege of Jerusalem, 1244

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Fighting Archer, Battle of Agincourt, 1415

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Yorkist Man at Arms, Battle of Bosworth, 1485

In his series Soldiers’ Inventories, photographer Thomas Atkinson showcases the change in military kits of British soldiers over the course of 1,000 years, from 11th century to most recent days. His documentary starts with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and spans throughout twelve other combats, including battle of Waterloo and the war of Afghanistan. The shift is riveting – from daggers to iPads carried alongside guns.

To gather his artifacts, Atkinson visited living history communities which use these collectives for battle re-enactments. His displays look like neatly organized puzzles and reminds of the established military order these soldiers faced every day. Atkinson says he would spend hours aligning the gear, starting with bigger pieces and filling in the empty spaces with smaller attributes.

“It’s a slow process, a bit like a game of Tetris – you place a few key items and then start to fill in the gaps. Sometimes you have to go backwards or start again because it isn’t working. I wanted to arrange objects in a way which would illustrate and give clues as to what they are – objects pertaining to food are grouped together, as are items which relate to the rifles and weaponry and so on,” Atkinson told DPreview.

Atkinson’s retrospective unfolds a great deal about the change in our warfare. First off: development in design which is best illustrated by the shift in armour: from colourful vibrantly colored vests, to camouflage. According to Atkinson, “the fact that certain objects recur is more fascinating than the ones that evolve“. Best examples of it being a spoon, helmet and something to kill the boredom with: from 16th century playing cards, to magazines and iPads. (via Wired)

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Portraits Of Patients With Facial Paralysis Show A Terrible Beauty

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Sage Sohier spent three years at a facial nerve clinic, photographing people in the beginning stages of treatment of facial paralysis for her series “About Face.” The portraits of men, women, and children of all ages and ethnicities with varied causes and visible extents of paralysis are striking. Looking directly into the camera, directly at the viewer, the patients smile.

Most people I photograph are acutely aware of their imperfections and try to minimize them. Some have confided in me that, in their attempt to look more normal, they strive for impassivity and repress their smiles. They worry that this effort is altering who they are emotionally and affecting how other people respond to them.

In our image obsessed society, facial oddities can be difficult to live with. When we see images of celebrities with shaved noses and plumped lips, carving and injecting their way to plastic perfection, having a face twisted and pulled by nerve damage seems unthinkable. In an absurd twist, some of the patients are treated with Botox, which is a medical treatment as well as a cosmetic one. The strength of character it takes to allow a portrait when one’s face is so far from “the ideal” is astounding. The pictures that include loved ones show them touching, kissing, and connecting, illustrating how appearance doesn’t matter, that they person they love is still there.

As a visual artist, I find myself fascinated by the intensity of glimpsing two expressions simultaneously, a literal “two-facedness” that mesmerizes by its terrible beauty. At the same time, I hope these pictures bear witness to the incredible courage required to deal with medical afflictions, especially when they affect one’s primary appearance. Even minor facial problems challenge and potentially diminish a person’s sense of self; the poise and inner strength that it takes to deal with this, while at the same time presenting oneself to the world, is remarkable.

It’s important that images like these are taken, and even more that they are seen. These people have a medical condition, reversible to differing degrees, that makes them look different than what we expect. And this is what humanity is composed of—people who look like themselves at any given point in their lives. (via Design Taxi)

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Andi Schreiber Documents Middle-Age And The Need To Be Desired

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Andi Schreiber refuses to disappear. In her ongoing series, “Pretty Please”, she documents life as an aging suburban mom in a youth-obsessed culture. “Middle-aged mom” must be one of the least sexy descriptors around, redolent of yoga pants and stretch marks and sun-damaged skin. Yet as the years have passed, Schreiber has continued to feel young and sexual, even as she’s felt that society has closed those roles to her. She says:

“When I was in my thirties I heard the expression “Invisible Forties.” I couldn’t imagine how sexually inconsequential I’d feel throughout this decade.”

The powerful documentary style photos in “Pretty, Please” beg you to look. Honest and vibrant, they are not always comfortable. Victoria’s Secret has trained us to expect sexy lingerie on a young, taut body, not on folded and stretched skin. And yet, why isn’t this just as beautiful? Grow old or die, those are the only options. Why can’t we appreciate the child-scarred body of a woman who wants to be seen?

Self-portraits are interspersed with images from Schreiber’s life. A drop of blood on the toilet seat symbolizes her ebbing fertility; the lit interior of her closet holds neatly hung clothes and shelves of shoes, but also, stashed up and away, naked kewpie dolls, whimsical and eerie.

“You get into your 40s and things are very different, your perspective changes, and the way the world looks at you changes as well.”

In “Pretty, Please” we’re looking at Andi Schreiber and she’s looking back. This is definitively her — her life, her body, her blood — and yet this desire to be seen, to be valued on her own terms, could also represent the scores of middle-aged women who chose family and stability and have had their sense of self sacrificed to their suburban houses, and diapers, and carpools.

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Striking Portraits Of Mutilated Acid Attack Survivors By Ken Hermann

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Shocking photographs of acid attack victims shine light on Bangladesh’s cruel reality of frequent mutilation acts. The project called “Survivors” was made by an award-winning photographer Ken Hermann and video journalist Tai Klan. The duo visited Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, aspiring to document the heartbreaking stories of people disfigured by acid attacks.

Rejection to have an affair, refusing to get married, land or marital disputes are the most common reasons for attacks often performed by close relatives, neighbors or a spouse. Majority of such violence acts are directed against young women and children who then are scarred for the rest of their lives. Medical treatments and surgeries are a mere utopia.

But there is an unbelievably inspiring side even to this tragedy: people captured in Hermann’s photographs refuse to see themselves as victims. Their portraits radiate extreme resilience and profoundness. According to the photographer, his goal was to portray these people by emphasizing their beauty and strength rather than displaying them as freaks.

“I have nothing to hide. I look at myself and love myself for who I have become in spite of what I have suffered”,says Umma Aysha Siddike Nila, who was 15 years old when her husband burnt all of her face and parts of her upper arms with acid.

Many people whose lives were affected by acid attacks have devoted themselves to fight against the rooted custom. Thanks to people like Nila and bigger organizations such as Acid Survivor Foundation, there has been an 85% decline in recorded acid attack cases.

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Pieter Hugo Documents South Africa’s Scars Of Colonialism

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Pieter Hugo’s “Kin” is the photographer’s closer look into his motherland and a personal approach to the incredible human diversity surrounding him. Hugo’s photo series from South Africa depicts the issues of race, social status, economical despair, sexuality and his own place in such “fractured, schizophrenic, wounded, and problematic place”.

Despite being complicated in content, Hugo’s photographs carry a distinctly serene, calming style and the sense of connection between the photographer, camera and the subject. Regardless of who’s in frame, an unknown homeless drifter, domestic servant, or his pregnant wife, Hugo captures their essence and tension in a simple static shot.

“[Kin] is an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood. [South Africa] is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and apartheid still run very deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow.”

Based on his photographic approach, Pieter Hugo raises questions to himself and searches for answers through his work. How should one live in this diverse society? Should one accept the historical aftermath for granted or try to change it? How to raise a family in these circumstances?

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A Peek Into The Mystical Lives And Rituals Of Urban Peruvian Shamans

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Italy-based photographer Andrea Frazzetta gives us a little glimpse into the lives and rituals of modern healers from Lima, Peru. His project called “Urban Shamans” peeks behind the doors of the rear private shops where shamans, or the so called curanderos, perform their traditional mystical rituals which are not subject to the laws and orders of today’s world.

Up to this day, curanderos are trusted by the majority of Peruvians and are considered to be in line with psychiatrists and physicians. At some point, the parliament of Peru considered regarding them as doctors. However, bigger part of the healers are frauds as they don’t really deal with physical disorders, rather with emotional issues like fear, evil eye or even business and love life related questions.

“Nestled in plain sight throughout the streets of Lima, these generations of shamans and their sometimes shocking ritual practices toe the line between cultural fixture and anomalous spectacle.”

In his pictures, Frazzetta managed to capture even the very intimate, strange and eerie details of these healing ceremonies. Most of them include the use of a small animal (guinea pig, black hen or a white dove) or a doll to whom the illnesses of the patient are transferred. (via Feature Shot)

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