Friday, January 26, 2007Home

Chelsea Museum Exhibition: What are the images telling us?

If you've been reading CameraArts Magazine with any regularity over the past year, you've probably noticed our exhibition listings and juried selections in the back of the magazine (they are also posted on the CameraArts home page). In our search for news on exhibitions and fine art photographers, we come across quite a bit of material. This blog has been home to all of the things we find that don't quite fit anywhere else, or deserve a little more notice than a few lines of text, a phone number and a web address. One New York exhibition in particular caught our eye.

At first glance, the title"Dangerous Beauties" evoked bikini-clad, rifle-toting femme fatales. This isn't the focus of the mixed media exhibition, but artificial images of beauty, fed by impossible ideals and created via airbrush. "How thin is too thin?" is the question posed by this project, which opened yesterday at the Chelsea Art Museum.

From the Museum's website:

In the quest to emulate this fiction of desirability, the journey from manipulation of images to the “doctoring” and manipulation of the self seems increasingly short. More money is spent in this country on cosmetics than on education and social services combined, while close to two million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed last year in the United States. Anorexia and self-mutilation are rampant. Girls, women and increasingly men alike, compare themselves to the air brushed “beauties” and feel that everything about themselves is wrong.

The risks of an unsafe body image has lost none of its importance over the years, and its very telling that it took the death of Brazillian model Anna Carolina Reston to cause a "frenzy" in Madrid about eating disorders and fashion. At CameraArts, we enjoy the female form in its natural beauty, and yet find it missing from so much fashion photography; only hundreds of iterations of a robotic, dead-eyed substitute. Are the standards set impossibly (and dangerously) high for the viewer's benefit, or the designers?

There's a video on the "Exhibition" page. Check it out.


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