Anouk 01, BODY
Lotte van Raalte, "Anouk 01, BODY"
Dec 19, 2020 at 21:17
When I saw your portrait, I was very moved to see that you are capturing the full map of the body with this image. Too often when creating a portrait, people only think about the representation of the face. The viewers instinct to look into the eyes of the person portrayed often dominates and overshadows the idea behind the presentation or representation of that person. The eyes are not called the mirrors of the soul for nothing. They are the gates with which to make something of our inner world known or visible. Eyes tell something directly and 'easily' about the relationship between the person portrayed and the portrait maker. Where does the person in the image look; into the lens, into the eyes of the maker, next to the image, at someone else in the image? Does the person know that they are being viewed? Do they watch their own body? The gaze of the person portrayed largely determines the tension of an image, and whether or not looking at it can be a voyeuristic experience.
It is very evident through your image that the skin can also tell a lot about someone, and their history. Personally, I think the skin is a neglected sensory organ that plays an important role in connecting with the other. The skin reacts immediately; it never lies. Depending on its situation, the skin expands, stretches, emits scents, loses moisture, discolours. To touch or be touched, is a unique, tactile experience that can often tell more than words. Skin is the canvas that seamlessly blends our inner world with our outer world.
Could you tell me a bit about how, and in which way, you as a maker connect with the human being/the body in this image?
Dec 24, 2020 at 12:36
Ever since I started photography I’ve been fascinated by people. The way they live, dress, their cultures, their differences, how they move, behave, and their energies. This particular image belongs to my book “BODY”, an ode to the female body. The project started by coincidence when I started to photograph my producer after a commissioned shoot in Morocco. To be honest I’ve always been quite critical of nude photography and never thought I would go there… But as I was starting to photograph her - first in a bikini, then just with a piece of fabric, then completely nude - I had this incredibly clear liberated feeling. Photographing someone so close, so natural, just a pure human being. I was already fascinated by faces and skin, but now I started my research towards the complete naked female body.
As you mentioned, you can read or associate a lot from someone's face, but we’re so much more than that. The human body is such an incredible instrument. Without it, we would be just energy, we wouldn’t be a human being. I photographed 46 women from 13 - 94 years old and every time they undressed it was such a powerful and beautiful moment. To see their most intimate - usually covered up - parts, their birthmarks, their wrinkles, their scars, their stories. And the older they were, the more stories I could read. We seem to often forget how our skin is our biggest organ and the bridge between our outside and inside world. And most of us are incredibly harsh on our bodies which leads to a lot of totally unnecessary suffering. It’s important for me to show the vulnerability, growth, change, strength, and beauty of our bodies. I literally looked at all of the bodies in front of my lens as a complete and perfect piece of nature. Because we are, just like nature. When would you ever look at a tree for example and think “god that is one imperfect and ugly tree”?
Recently I finished this amazing book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in which she also writes a lot about the body. Since I love this part so much I’d like to quote her: ”The body is a multilingual being. It speaks through its color and its temperature, the flush of recognition, the flow of love, the ash of pain, the heat of arousal…The body remembers, the bones remember, the joints remember, even the little finger remembers. Memory is lodged in pictures and feelings in the cells themselves…To confine the beauty and value of the body to anything less than this magnificence is to force the body to live without its rightful spirit, its rightful form, its right to exultation. To be thought ugly or unacceptable because one’s beauty is outside the current fashion is deeply wounding to the natural joy that belongs to the wild nature."
For the past year - after the release of my book in January 2020 - I started to shift my focus onto nature and women in nature. Another (related) photography research that I’m still working on as we speak.
Greetings and happy days,
Lotte van Raalte