May 11, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I previously posted Yamanaka’s Gyahtei series here, promising to share more later on. I’m now making good on that promise. Below I’ve included some of the artist’s own words, as his translations are engaging and kind. What’s important to keep in mind when viewing his photographs, I think, is to not exoticize the bodies, but to understand and realize our likeness. To admit whatever feelings are conjured, consider them carefully, and use them as an opportunity to confront whatever privileged spine produced them in the first place.
“I’ve always thought that those in this world born with deformities, or who lose freedom of movement in accidents and mishaps, were living a life of continued suffering. Perhaps because of bad deeds in a previous life, or because they’re pathetically unfortunate.
In a rest home I met a young girl. She was nothing but skin and bones, barely even breathing while she lie down. Why was she born like this, and what are we supposed to learn from it?
To understand the meaning of her existence, I decided to photograph her.
People who gradually become smaller as the body expends all its water, people whose bodies rot as their skin peels off and their figures turn red and swell, people whose heads gradually expand from water that has collected within, people with part of their feet or hands unusually large, and soon.
I’ve met and photographed many people like that, living with afflictions that are not explainable, and for whom a cure is said to be hopeless.
Yet even in that state, when I looked upon them without cringing, I saw how truly natural each one of their lives really were. I came to feel the presence of Bodhisattva within their bodies. These people were the “Incarnation of Bodhisattva,” the children of God.”
-Manabu Yamanaka (from Jyuodo)
I updated The Author page.
February 1, 2011 § 1 Comment
Still on my mission to offer productive body representations…
“The women you see in these images are educators, executives, mothers, musicians, professionals, performers, artists, activists, clerks, and writers. . . .Some are showing you their bodies proudly. Others timidly. And some quite reluctantly. But they all share a determination in altering commonly accepted notions of a narrow and specific beauty ideal.”
they are so beautiful, i could get lost in imagining the possibilities of their bodies.
this last one reminds me of my mother. her face contemplative, loving, wise. she seems to be absorbing her view through her body, with her body. somehow an expression of mortality. my mother is a deeply, wonderfully, spiritual being. this photo warms me: that it might be possible to be Whole.
visit the artist’s website to see more, including women of color, tattoos, and intimacy portraiture. i hesitate to respond to the jones’ use of the word “fat” as a part of her project. she is definitely pushing for fat-positivity, acceptance. i support the project but think it’d benefit from some more informed theory. but this is good work that needs to be done.
to me the women’s bodies here invoke womanhood, sexuality, and safety.
January 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
i promised to post some examples of productive nude photography.
by ‘productive’ i mean work that expresses or develops a representation of women that is not harmful to them, that does not support patriarchal frames, that is loving. consider the work of leeann macomber (website here).
leanne herself is vividly beautiful, and her perspectives on gender performance are informed and radical (as all ours should be). i find her photographs to be sex positive, not exploitative. not promoting sexist interpretations. here are two pieces from her body series that i enjoy.