When the photographer Julia Kozerski lost literally half her body weight, dropping from 338 to under 178 lbs, she cataloged her complex emotional reaction to her transformation in a series titled Half. In a jarring response to most weight loss media, the artist avoids the display of any cheerful confidence, forcing viewers to consider the murky and provocative intersections of body image and identity.
In each frame, the artist performs intimate rituals, using her form as an aesthetic means of translating her feelings about identity and metamorphosis. In Ruins No. 1 and No. 2, she treats her flesh as if it were the remains of an ancient monument or temple; her skin, colored by stretch marks and curvatures shot in vivid contrast, appears less like an emerging new shape than a worshipful testament to the body she once lived in. For Kozerski, her weight loss is complicated by the suggestion of a confused identity; as she navigates her “halved” body, we quietly mourn the loss of the other.
As the photographs courageously expose this sense of loss and confusion, they paradoxically serve as a forum for self-actualization. In exposing her deepest vulnerabilities, Kozerski surrenders herself to her transformation, allowing for a richer and gorgeously nuanced identity to emerge. Throughout the series, the artist’s emotional and physical bareness become increasingly related to this idea of selfhood re-discovered, a theme which is often explored through her erotic connection with her husband.
In “…or for Worse,” Kozerski is tragically shown to be too small for her wedding gown, but throughout the series, sexual barriers and insecurities fade. An image titled “Lovers Embrace,” for instance, presents the pained and uncertain subject laying beside her mate, their wedding bands providing a flicker of hope as they glisten in the evening light. Ultimately, the viewer bears witness to “Eclipse,” a shot in which husband and wife stand nude, embracing one another and visually condensed into one powerful and resilient figure. After weathering this complex emotional terrain with the artist, we are presented with an image simply titled “Self,” left breathless and in awe of the woman before us. (via CNN, Phototazo, and Jezebel)