Emotional Images On Body Dysmorphia, Weight-Loss Surgery, And Self-Acceptance

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weight-loss surgery

For the artist Maria Raquel Cochez, her body is both her subject and medium; choosing to undergo and photograph 3 weight-loss surgery procedures, she catalogs a complex relationship with body image. For this series, titled “Life Performance,” and subsequent videos, paintings, and photographs, the artist courageously addresses the difficult ways in which women are expected to conform to physical ideals.

For “Life Performance,” Cochez relinquishes all control, surrendering both her body and her camera, leaving others to cut, transform, and document her as she undergoes a breast reconstruction and implant and gastric bypass. Each photograph poignantly blurs the line between performance and experience, boldly welcoming the public into a profoundly private emotional space.

Four years after “Life Performance,” Cochez presents “Belly,” a gorgeous video capturing the effects of surgery and life on her midsection. Seen floating in a full bathtub, her excess flesh is seen as touchingly soft yet powerful; isolated from the rest of her body, it seems to breathe independently, rising from the water and sinking back again. On the righthand side of the frame, a child plays with the female belly, innocently exploring the space that gave him life. He kneads it like bread, then strokes it carefully.

The work is painfully moving for the artist’s total surrender to her craft and audience; as viewers, we bear witness to her insides, to folds of her naked skin. For this reason, her impressive body of work seem less like an exploitation of the self than a miraculously intimate confessional. Despite their potentially painful content, her creations are strangely warm and generous; for example, in Life Performance No.1, romantic black and white images of her smiling face and her soft backside gently bookend the frighteningly colorful photographs of her surgery.

Ultimately, the work reads as a richly nuanced love letter to the human body, one to which all humans, regardless of experience, can relate. Take a look at Cochez’s paintings, videos, and photographs after the jump, including her uncomfortably, painfully seductive self-portraits of eating binges.

Stretched Skin And Gruesomely Flattened Bodies Reveal Human Truths (NSFW)

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What story would your flesh tell if it were splayed and flattened, digitally altered to appear as a work of art, caught between the angled sides of a camera frame? For his stunning series of photographs, titled Skin, the photographer June Yong Lee manipulates portraits of nude bodies, arranging their torsos in such a way that defies the limitations of the muscular skeletal system.

Despite the artist’s deliberate omission of common indicators of visual identity—facial features, body shape, and race—the images are an authoritative and legible document of selfhood. Pointing to the human desire to express what cannot be conveyed with language, Lee’s camera reveals tattoos, tired milky breasts, freckles, and scars.

For the artist, skin operates as a visual diary of experience. Without the guidelines of a more recognizable human form, memories— that range from the mundane to the sexually charged— are kept only through marks etched on flesh. He writes, “our skin never forgets [our past].”

The ideological tensions between body and mind are subverted as the skin organ is compressed; as if they were flowers held between the heavy pages of an encyclopedia, mounds of sin become something to be studied and read. The careful framing of each piece enhances this idea; positioned in relation to a central axis of the navel, the bisected torsos appear bound down the middle like some sort of corporeally historical book.

The phenomenal work is so poignant because in some ways, it confirms the unreliability of a subjective human memory: tattoos are faded or unreadable, and scars are healed. The images seem to blend the antique tonal richness of early Victorian photography with a morbid sense of modern forensics; as if recovered from an ancient autopsy, the slabs of flesh are somehow mournful yet objective and scientific. Our memories erode, and we die; yet through some miraculous marriage of science and art, fragments of our forgotten moments might be archived. (via Feature Shoot)

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David Catá Embroiders Portraits Of Loved Ones Into His Skin

skin embroidery skin embroidery David Catá David Catá

David Catá describes his ongoing series, “A Flor De Piel” as an autobiographical diary of which his skin is the canvas. Catá embroiders portraits of people who have influenced or marked his life  - family, friends, teachers, lovers, partners – by physically marking his palm with these images. This embroidered flesh corporally represents relationships we have with each other – love and union and the pain and loss felt through separation, as well as the residual imprint of the relationship. Catá documents this action with photography and videography, imprinting his life story into various surfaces. You can check out more body-as-canvas work on his website. (via design boom)

Jessica Harrison’s Disturbing Skin Sculptures

skin sculpture skin couch Jessica Harrison

These disturbing sculptures, created by Jessica Harrison, seem to be made out of real, fleshy skin and hair. For your relief, that is not the case; they are actually made out of the casts of the palms and back of the artist’s hands. The artist chooses to photograph these sculptures against real skin, her hands, to trick her viewers into thinking that the actual sculpture might in fact be an extension of her body. Blurring these boundaries and limits of the body, Harrison provokes questions about perceptions and bodily shapes in relation to the two of the five sense, touch and sight.

Her research considers the relationship between interior and exterior spaces of the body, but looks neither inwards towards a hidden core, nor outwards from the subconscious, instead looking orthogonally across the skin to the movement of the body itself, using the surface of the body as a mode of both looking and thinking.

(Via Ignant)

Felix Deac’s Hyper-Realistic Creature Sculptures

Romanian artist Felix Deac creates hyper-realistic sculptures…sort of.  His pieces covered in human-like skin are replete with moles, veins, blemishes, and hair.  However, their form is anything but familiar.  His sculptures are intentionally amorphic and anthropomorphic at the same time.  In a way Deac encourages the viewer to contemplate the irrational situation in which a creature like this would be a possibility and how it came into existence.

Documentary Watch: Skin- Tattoo Culture as high art

Directed by Ryan Hope, Skin is a dark, stylish examination of tattoo culture as high art, and a film that tests the boundaries of art and the human body. Featuring contributions from Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Raymond Pettibon, the film is a beautiful visual essay from the frontiers of contemporary British art. Watch the full documentary after the jump.