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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Roberto Foddai Turns The Camera On Himself In His Dramatic, Erotic, And Comedic Self-Portraits

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It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.

Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:

1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.

2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.

3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.

We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.

I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.

In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.

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Sexual Transgression Through The Eyes Of Neckface And Four Other Artists

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Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.

Featured artists include Tina Lugo, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Ventiko, Mia Makila and Neckface.

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SD Holman’s Portraits Of Female Masculinity In BUTCH: Not Like The Other Girls

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Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:

“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward.  I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”

The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.

Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.

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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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The Eerily Dissolving Faces of Henrietta Harris

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New Zealand-based illustrator Henrietta Harris, previously featured here, continues to compel the eye with her alluring and dreamily distorted portraits. In her pastel-toned watercolors, she renders the human figure fluid and infinite. Seemingly caught in moments of a romantic introspection bordering on spiritual transcendence, her subjects dissolve into swirls, scribbles, and line.

Here, Harris’s artistic process is inextricably fused with the completed portrait, and the creative act of art making is just as significant as the subject itself. Quick, doodled lines of primary and secondary colors become equally as material and substantial as the multiple-toned and shaded flesh itself, and the artist’s stream of consciousness thrillingly interrupts any objective reflection of reality. Individual identities collapse to form a whirlpool of ecstatic color, and the body itself becomes a cosmic landscape, revolving, twisting, and floating like a strange fleshy galaxy.

The intense movement of Harris’s work is balanced only by her soft, muted colors and the hushed expressions of her subjects. Peering sleepily downwards, her watercolor muses exude a quiet yet concentrated aura, as if lost in a meditative trance. Two-dimensional lines like static electricity course through three-dimensional bodies, slicing their features in two, and still they stare forward resolutely. Deconstructed perhaps by their own imaginations, they surrender themselves to the hand of the artist, which leaps and coils whimsically across the page. Take a look. (via The Inspiration Grid)

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Deconstructed Photography: Joseph Heidecker And Four Other Artists Redefine The Photograph

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Joseph Heidecker

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Soo Kim

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Nelson Crespo

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Since the first photograph, photography has ushered forth in producing a consequential depiction of truths through the containment of fleeting moments in a tangible and archival format. Instances in time are revealed as light falls upon sensitized paper, asserting the presence of each photograph’s content. The picture plane remains uniform, constricted by its own variable, physical dimensions: a synthetic simulacrum of a three-dimensional reality that will forever remain in constant flux. And yet, in spite of presenting elements of proof based within reality, the upheaval of the actual authenticity of the photograph has found itself under siege.

Through a variety of executions, the following artists working with the photographic medium twist this truism in unique and awe-inspiring ways, abolishing preconceived notions of photography through a re-presentation of the photograph. In their reconsideration of the ordinarily static picture plane, form is pushed beyond the confines of the image through the destruction, manipulation or interference of the photograph.

Featured artists include Joseph Heidecker, Matthew Brandt, Soo Kim, Eileen Quinlan and Nelson Crespo.

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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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