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Joel-Peter Witkin

Magazine Art + Culture | 12 Set 2016

PHOTOGRAPHY EMBODIED

 

“I engage life in all its forms toward moral and spiritual redemption with all its splendour and misery. That, I believe is why we are on earth. The body is the recognisable mask of existence. I celebrate and acknowledge its physical and aesthetic existence”.
Images of strange bodies; of organs and deviant sexual activities; of body fragments as human metonyms; photos of corpses; doubly dead in nature, as they represent inanimate beings and parts of man after he has abandoned life; bodies as casings for the soul, the gateway to the divine. In the work of Joel-Peter Witkin, the grotesque establishes itself not as desire to ridicule the portrayed object, but as the assumption of the human being in all of its guises.
In this time of body worship, in proportions, symmetries and equilibriums that bring it close, in its assiduous conformity to what is beautiful, to the gods of any Olympus; in this era of battling against ageing, of open warfare on what are considered “imperfections” of the flesh, Witkin chooses to celebrate the “ugly”, the divergent, the shapeless, the passage of time, revealing wrinkles, flaccidity and death.
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Featured in ROOF 4

 



 

Text: Paula Monteiro

Photo 1: Courbet in Rejlander’s Pool, 1985 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
Photo 2: Cuisine of a Failed Romance, 2003 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
Photo 3: Abundance, 1997 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
Photo 4: Dwarf from Naples, 2006 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
Photo 5: Face of a Woman, 2004 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago
Photo 6: Reality Is an Invention, Balthus, 2008 ©Joel-Peter Witkin / Image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

You can see Joel-Peter Witkin’s additional work on Catherine Edelman Gallery web site: www.edelmangallery.com

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