Poignantly Raw Photographs Show An Uncensored Motherhood

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The photographer Elinor Carucci’s recent series Mother reads like a visual diary of the pains and pleasures of motherhood, a raw and uncensored confessional of love and a complex relationship to the female body. Within the aesthetic framework of more traditional portrayals of the mother, she highlights the visceral and bodily with romantic reverence.

Carucci relies in part upon the image of the art historical Virgin Mary, mirroring Renaissance paintings in which the virgin clasps the child in her lap, his soft baby limps coiled around her abdomen. Similarly, a strange and beautiful self-portrait features the artist in a hospital bed, a mysterious and seemingly divine light shone directly over her womb. With symmetry evocative of Renaissance art, her newborn twins nurse at her breasts, each head resting on a pillow of deep blue characteristic of the virgin.

Mother transforms our understanding of the divine, expanding it to apply to real, mortal women, our bodies and our fears. Unlike Mary, our protagonist is not a virgin; instead, her sexuality is the source of her creative energy; her milky breasts are shown alongside the vulva, her stretch marks and scars creating s subtle cross in the center of her torso. Her daughter, appropriately named Eden, sneaks a look down her mother’s underwear, marveling at the beauty and power of the genital area with moving innocence, her face bathed in light.

With the beauty of life and love comes the poignant fact of growing up and innocence lost. As the girl’s hair is cut, her green eyes are stricken with fear, the bothersome remains of lost hair littering her face. Similarly, a child bears a wound, which swells painfully from her lip like a ripe pomegranate seed; during bath time, she wriggles from her mother’s arms, shot in relative darkness, desperate to return to a state of play. Take a look. Mother is currently on display at New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery. (via Beautiful Is Now and Feature Shoot)

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Ramona Zordini’s Eerie, Yet Sensual Photography

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Photographer Ramona Zordini creates images that tastefully and powerfully channel sexuality and eroticism between lovers and oneself. Zordini is interested in both showcasing pairs of naked bodies floating on murky water as they interact with one another and portraits of single bodies as they emerge from whitish liquids. Although Zordini’s sensual photography carries an undeniable sexual energy, they embody an aesthetic that resembles organic textures and lines, as well as a concepts (of love, sex and self-discovery) that are poignant and relatable.

In her recent series, Changing Time III, Zordini creates images of posing nude couples in a variety of positions that imply imitate moments. A man wraps his arms around a woman who curls up, head down, under water. In another photograph, a man with an undercut wraps his arms around his nude partner who faces upwards and appears to be pushing against a confining force. Their legs intertwine and one feels their desperation, their need to cling and hold on to one another. The aesthetic and composition of Changing Time IIIrepresent a clear development from the Italian artist’s previous engagement with the human form as beauty and sculpture, into a more nuanced interest in the body as communication.

Zordini’s earlier works, on the other hand, feature single bodies and complex colors and compositions; these are more intriguing and less straightforward that the couple shots.  In many of these photographs, a single female twists and contorts her body to reveal a breast, hand, or leg above the obscuring smoky surface. (via Hi-Fructose)

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Former Playboy Bunnies Photographed Decades Later In Provocative Portraits

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When the renowned photographer Robyn Twomey visited the Former Playboy Bunny Reunion, she shot simple and engrossing headshots of women who had been Playboy Bunnies decades before, hoping the capture the complex and often contradictory nature of their former field. On one hand the women are mesmerizingly assertive, and yet, traces of vulnerability and self-consciousness mark their wrinkled brows.

Often, the women appear empowered by their sexuality, and their expressions border on the confrontational. Abandoning any show of passive feminine gentleness, a woman spangled in hot pink costume jewelry adopts a laissez-faire posture normally associated with masculinity, pursing her lips into a smirk and tossing her shoulder back with calculated attitude. Another makes an orgasmic facial expression, relaxing her lips around her open mouth, boldly pressing her breasts towards the camera.

Yet within these powerful and stunning individuals lies a poignant anxiety over growing older, one that boarders perhaps on self-doubt, expressed through a turn of the eye, a furrowed brow. A few turn away from the camera, staring into to the corner of Twomey’s tight frame with strained smiles or almost bashful eyes, their features and the passage of time made more noticeable by make-up that glistens under the bright lights.

Each woman is deeply sympathetic and beautiful, but the work calls into question the ethics of societal pressures enforced by brands and magazines like Playboy. When budding sexuality is valued above all, and when young women are both objectified and exalted, where does that leave aging women? The work is far from an indictment of its subjects; instead, it captures the complexities of a controversial industry that toes the line between supposed empowerment and potential degradation. What do you think? (via BUST and Feature Shoot)

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Feminist Photographs Show The Dark Side Of Beauty

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In a startling critique of the ways in which images of women’s bodies are consumed, the artist Jessica Ledwich presents “The Fanciful, Monstrous Feminine,” a collection of surreal photographs documenting the psychological consequences of contemporary beauty standards and practices. For Ledwich, female sexuality is viewed as “threatening” and is therefore oppressed; here, she exaggerates the femme fatale image, showing her red-lipped, square-nailed protagonist engaging in violence with her own body.

The female form, shiny and lacquered, appears like a hybrid, part human and part domestic cyborg; her youthful flesh is overtaken by the mechanics of beauty. In one image, severed and still-wriggling fingers are replaced with tweezers, and in another, she uses a vacuum cleaner to suction fat from her thighs, injecting it into her lips.

Improvements to the home and domestic realm take a literal toll on the female body and self; after awkwardly sculpting a just-budding lemon tree, a matriarch forces her own natural body into an hourglass with restrictive garments. The monotony of the daily grooming routine turns brutal and dehumanizing, and with each ritual, our subject sacrifices a bit of her identity until, like slabs of lifeless meat, her limbs, brains, and heart are sold off at a butcher shop cleverly referred to as “Limbsons.”

Tied to this endless pursuit of female perfection is the idea of motherhood, presented without an ounce of warmth or sentimentality. A C-section yields only an endless stream of identical plastic dolls, each removed with the same sterile, unfeeling determination that we see with the surgical implantation of breasts. The mother, robbed of her sexuality, is shown inserting biohazards material into a cooked egg, an uncomfortable action we might presume to represent her own impregnation. This bleak, unromantic portrayal of female beauty and fertility serves to remind us of the physically and psychologically painful demands placed on modern women’s bodies, leaving viewers yearning for a more humane world. (via Lost at E Minor and Design Taxi)

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Sexual Experience Deconstructed In Erotic Photos (NSFW)

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The photographer Sarah Anne Johnson snaps shots of the most intimate kind, asking friends and acquaintances to sit for her while engaging in sexual activity: intercourse, foreplay, kissing, masturbation. Later, the artist enters into a new kind of dialogue with the erotic photos, covering her portraits in glitter and gold plate or scratching away their emulsion in strategic places.

The form of Johnson’s series, titled Wanderlust, brilliantly echoes its content. In penetrating the materiality of the photographic medium by altering its surface, Johnson makes as much of a statement about artistic or creative lust than she does about human sexuality. The gently cracked, ashy layer of a burnt chromogenic print mirrors a lover’s tender caress; similarly, a halo of scratches parallels a couple’s orgiastic pleasure.

Despite Johnson’s unconventional process—perhaps even because of it—Wanderlust seems a powerfully honest rendering of sexual intimacy. At times, human closeness becomes cosmically infinite, a moment of love solidified in gold plate or starry glitter. But many of the photographs complicate the notion of what it means to be truly vulnerable; often, her collage work obscures and flattens one lover, leaving his or her partner alone, isolated in the frame and utterly naked.

Johnson’s work relies on this tension between connection and isolation, a theme which serves to imbue the series with a palpable sense of sexual tension; for instance, two bodies are deconstructed in Puzzle Pieces, formatted to appear unified under one complex and paradoxically disjointed aesthetic. Simultaneously penetrating the viewer and and leaving us to gasp for air, the body of work is a must-see. It is currently on view at Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery. (via Art in America and Feature Shoot)

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Zanele Muholi Explores Representation Of Lesbian African Women

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Zanele Muholi, a South African activist and visual artist, explores and re-imagines the intimate portrayal of the lives of black lesbian women in South Africa.

Moreover, Being, the title of this collection, according to Muholi, aims to question the construction of sexuality “and then [the] deconstruct of ourselves […] in order to see the parts that make up [the] whole.”

Black women and sexuality, in conjunction, have always been topics of heated conversation, as it not only refers to sexuality, but also a matter of colonialism and white patriarchy.

The artist is concerned with her sexual identity coming off as ‘un-African’ – perhaps a product of years of stigmatization on behalf of white colonialist and patriarchal societies, deeming the black female sexual identity as one that is hyper-sexualized and strictly heterosexual- or even then, the image of a black female to “reproduce” heterosexuality and white patriarchy.

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Photographs Reveal Before And After Transformations Of Drag Queens

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Leland Bobbé, a New York based photographer, has compiled a series of stunning and complex images that further examine the drag queen persona, what it consist of, its controversies, and multifaceted physical aspects.His ongoing project, ‘Half-Drag . . . A Different Kind of Beauty’, has made a huge impact. Consequently, landing the photographer several awards and features in international art fairs.

The collection provides the viewer with an interesting perspective. These photographs, composed and stylized through the power of hair and makeup, are captured in one snap, and are not digitally composed- which is a lot to take on, knowing that the process could have been much easier having used Photoshop or other editing programs.

I think that Bobbé artistic choices say a lot about the points he is trying to convey with this collection of images. Moreover, there would only be this much vulnerability and honesty if the images were captured this way, and in this way only. Having his sitters pose with their two identities up-front and exposed is one hell of a statement. The sincerity, humble approach of the photographer and sitter alike, lets us in on the queens’ little secret and questions gender constructs, current law, human right initiatives and the possible lack-there-of.

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Photographing The Weight Of Nakedness In Nudity – NSFW

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Julia Fullerton-Batten’s models seem naked in their nudity, and this is not just a clever play on words. John Berger, in his book Ways of Seeing, explains the difference: “Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.”

Here, in Fullerton-Batten’s Unadorned series, each model is indeed nude, as Berger suggests, posed on display, manipulated by the photographer to convey an idea, however . . . because he or she wears a certain type of nudity in the vein of old world masters from the 15th – 17th centuries . . . and because they are arranged in contemporary settings by female hands . . . and because their bodies are curvy and soft, as opposed to thin and hard . . . what results is also a fascinating feeling of nakedness: a complex historical/sociological revelation of us as a species in relation to gender, weight, and image.

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