Katy Grannan's work is particularly impressive, in a time when we're surrounded by images of youthful and beautiful bodies retouched to perfection, it's almost disturbing to see old age captured with such honesty.
When four successful models were talking about their diets at the Vogue Festival, everyone wanted to know the secret of having an amazing body but it all came down to good genes, an healthy diet and exercise.
But as someone said 'a beautiful body is actually just blood, fat, muscle, lymph, bones and excrement, nothing good or pleasant! The human body is like a vase of fine porcelain full of excrement. Open it, and you will feel nauseous.'
I wonder if this was what Damien Hirst had in mind when he cut animals down the middle and laid the halves side by side or when he made the incredible half angel half human sculpture (Anatomy of an Angel) where you can see inside the face and leg, with visible bones and muscles.
If we really think about it, the body has no other destination than the cemetery and no matter what the beauty industry tells us, we will all get older if we're lucky to stay alive long enough.
Our only concern should be to give the body whatever care is needed to keep it in good health, as model Jourdan Dunn said, 'accept whatever flaws it has' and don't get carried away by anxiety otherwise we won't be able to enjoy whatever age we have now.
'Great beauty cannot get the better of death by seduction, great wealth cannot bribe it away and the greatest power cannot force it to wait even for an instant.' So before old age ravages our physical and intellectual faculties, it would be wiser to focus on the mind instead.
And that's what some of these artists did such as Katy Grannan herself, challenging our perceptions about body image and old age. John Stezaker plays up with gender through his collages and Ryan McGinley creates an image of primordial nature with a man suspended within a visceral world.
David Noonan is also fascinating, his photographs are ambiguous and theatrical, suggesting surreal narratives. I also love the dramatic vision of Mat Collishaw and the way he uses mosaic to immortalise his subjects.
|David Noonan (left) and Mat Collishaw (right)|
Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has created an almost ethereal scenario with a cloud suspended in a confined space, capturing a fleeting glimpse and mirroring our quest for the infinite.
I leave you with a Phoeve Rudomino photograph, there's a profound serenity in the underwater world and movement is always soft but it can also provoke some kind of numbness and a nostalgic desire to reach the surface of the sea...
Out of Focus: Photography
25 April - 22 July 2012
Other related blog posts:
The Photography of Eve Arnold