Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Artist Research: Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin is a photographer whose images of the human condition are undeniably powerful. For more than forty years he has pursued his interest in spirituality and how it impacts the physical world in which we exist. Finding beauty within the grotesque, Witkin pursues this complex issue through people most often cast aside by society -- human spectacles including hermaphrodites, dwarfs, amputees, androgynes, carcases, people with odd physical capabilities, fetishists and "any living myth ... anyone bearing the wounds of Christ." His fascination with other people's physicality has inspired works that confront our sense of normalcy and decency, while constantly examining the teachings handed down through Christianity.

I noticed that Witkin uses a lot of unusual deformed shapes to achieve the uncanny feeling. Looking at his black and white photographs with exaggerated shadows I get a very unpleasant, unfamiliar feeling, especially when it comes to the portraits. Witkin seemed to be interested in people with de formalities, and by making the set very artificial and unreal he achieved something extraordinary.

Examples of Witkin's photographs:

 'Las Meninas' (1987)
'The Black Hat' (2009)
'Prom Photo' (2008)
'Cuisine of a Failed Romance' (2003) 
'The Poet' (2005) 

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