Mark Twain once noted, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to”, indicating more than just a lack of fur separates us from our fellow mammals. Swiss photographer Vicky Althaus is known for taking risks to achieve unique scenes for capture, but her newest series offers something even more primal.
Going beyond setting the human body in a natural environment, Althaus has set her subject in what appears to be the familiar scene of a natural history museum. This combination, rather than simply pairing a model with live or taxidermied animals in a more natural state, calls into question our ideas of conservation, our relationship to animals, as well as our relationship to our own bodies. Offering very little titillation, the model’s nudity mirrors the animals, though the interaction appears off-putting, enhanced by the dimly lit room and drab staging. Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the nude model, merely stopping in and solely as a visitor, appears as unnatural as the stuffed animals that are meant to portray some example of our natural world. (via juxtapoz)
Cecelia Webber‘s collage work features tessellated figures and limbs of the human body arranged to form images of plants and animals. Webber photographs nude models – including herself – in various poses before she digitally edits the images, cutting and coloring them to form particular parts of the new image. The final product features different bodies and body parts posed in the same positions. Many of the pieces take months to finish, but the longest image – the rose – took her a year to complete because of how tricky the angles were to capture and arrange. Webber creates an image with such a high resolution that they can be printed up to 6 feet tall, a size that would make the tessellated bodies even more pronounced and captivating.
“Each image takes many stages to create. I start by researching photos of the creature or plant I’m trying to create and then sketch poses I want to photograph in a notebook…I never warp my models or edit them to change them – it is important to me to portray real natural bodies. Once I have my photos I start laying out my piece and playing with colour and arrangements…Many drastic transformations take place during this stage, so it’s sort of magical, because so many different variations are possible. I feel many possibilities at once but the true form of my subject slowly emerges.” (via daily mail)
Chicago-based artist Gracie Hagen has created a photography series titled “Illusions of the Body” that captures nude bodies in contrasting poses. In the “attractive” image on the left, the models represent their bodies with straight backs, pulled-back shoulders, and demure expressions – many of them stand posed in positions that reflect classical sculpture. In the “unattractive” image on the right, the bodies are turned and the models push out their stomachs, hunch their backs, and evoke expressions of indifference.
“‘Illusions of the Body'” was made to tackle the supposed norms of what we think our bodies are supposed to look like. Most of us realize that the media displays only the prettiest photos of people, yet we compare ourselves to those images. We never get to see those photos juxtaposed against a picture of that same person looking unflattering. That contrast would help a lot of body image issues we as a culture have.
Within the series I tried get a range of body types, ethnicities & genders to show how everyone is a different shape & size; there is no “normal”. Each photo was taken with the same lighting & the same angle.
Celebrate your shapes, sizes & the odd contortions your body can get itself into. The human body is a weird & beautiful thing.”
When I first looked at Yossi Loloi’s “Full Beauty” project, I felt conflicted, and, admittedly, a little irritated. Loloi’s whole mission statement is something we, as women, are constantly being reminded of– how the media is a horrible liar, how all women’s bodies are beautiful, how the art world is sexist too, and how we need to subvert to change and love our bodies, love ourselves. Right? Right! So, how might we do this? According to Loloi, one way, is to examine unconventional imagery such as his own collection of beautiful obese women, commercially lit in relaxed settings.
Of his intention, Loloi’s website states, “I focus on their fullness and femininity, as a form of protest against discrimination set by media and by today’s society. What larger women embody to me is simply a different form of beauty. I believe we own ‘freedom of taste’ and one shouldn’t be reluctant of expressing his inclination towards it. Limiting this freedom is living in a dictatorship of esthetics.”
What Loloi says is not horrible, not terrible. It’s quick, easy, and makes perfect sense. Scroll through the photos and you will see that these women certainly are strong and brave to share bodies that, on the surface, are not generally appreciated. I love the female subjects for embracing this. In fact, the women’s bravery is the most redeeming aspect of this project.
Zach Hyman’s photographs are concerned with the idea of bodies and boundaries and the spaces they occupy. Often, the bodies he captures are nude and placed in an environment that illuminates the boundaries of nature and culture. Something wonderfully vulnerable is evoked by the placement of these bodies. His subjects, though placed in settings seemingly incongruent with the exposition of their bodies, appear naturally comfortable. The way he captures light and contextualizes these bodies lend his work a universal quality that is at once identifiable and particular.
Scot Sothern is an older photographer, who due to a gnarly motorcycle injury, now walks with a cane. His stunning black and white photographs taken years ago explore what many consider to be the world’s oldest profession, prostitution, while his recent color shots document the random scenes he encounters on a daily basis. And while many of us roll up our windows and try to avoid even subtle eye contact with street corner hookers, Sothern welcomed them into motel rooms to pose for his unnerving lens and even partake in debauchery reserved for a pervert’s imagination and Charles Bukowski’s pen. He was probably the only person to ever shoot his subjects with something other than a gun or semen and his photos, mostly taken in the late 1980s went largely unseen until his first exhibit in 2010 at DRKRM Gallery in downtown LA – just blocks away from where a fan could’ve gotten into some serious trouble if they were inspired by the work. Besides living a wild life and making sure to have a camera there to capture it all, Sothern is also a wonderful writer who is able to describe his experiences with literal crack-addicted whores like they were the most elegant things you’ve ever read about in your life. WARNING: This post contains images that are NSFW.
Nick Farrell is a photographer with the ability to capture the essence of sex. And while he primarily shoots naked or next-to-naked girls for his personal projects, he has a diversity and range that has allowed him to work on everything from editorials with Mickey Avalon, short films for fashion brands like Han Cholo, to even the occasional shower shot of pornstar Jessie Andrews. But his real skillset is in his ability to make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable while they’re on set. That’s why there’s still this genuine quality to his nudes and his models look naturally flirtatious, rather than aggressive and overly posed. WARNING: This post contains images that are NSFW.