Intimate Portraits Of People With Disabilities Questions Societies Notions Of Beauty

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The nudes in Olivier Fermariello’s series “Je t’aime moi aussi” aren’t the familiar forms. Do they make you uncomfortable, these images of men and women outside the norm? Do you want to look away? Do the portraits feel exploitive?

People with disability in most cases feel the discrimination of not being considered entirely as a man or a woman: instead they feel treated either as children, either as beings belonging to a third gender, neutral with no libido. This project is about people, who are suffering from this kind of discrimination, but are not willing to give up their fight choosing a direct way to express themselves revealing their intimacy.

There is very specific platonic ideal of attractiveness that we all know, even if we choose not to accept it. Sure Dove has been campaigning for “real beauty” and Debenhams put size 16 mannequins in shop windows, but the vast majority of self-acceptance/social-acceptance images we see feature non-disabled people. The exclusion of images of people with disabilities removes them from the context of normalcy, both alienating and alien-making.

The series title translates to “I love you, too,” and this comes through in Fermariello’s photos. His pictures are not sensational —there is little effort to make the subjects of the photos look strange or other. There is also very little artifice, especially in the photos of the little person. She is captured, documentary-style, allowing us to see commonalities. This is an adult woman, sexual and sensual. All of the people photographed are making a clear statement in their fierce nakedness.

I wondered to what extent a disabled person was willing to go in leading a battle against the ultimate taboo in the field of disability. These images are the answer to my question.

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