Informing Contexts - Proud Flesh

Very interesting to see the use of natural light.

It is very different to the images of the children. The images are very sympathetic and asking you to look at the frailty of man. And I feel you’d need to know the person well for the images to be the way they are. I hadn’t seen this piece of work but I feel it would have easier to accept by the public than the images of the children in Immediate family.

She was asked, What inspired you to take these very intimate images? I guess a lot of my work, when I look back on it, is about encroaching mortality either to do with the body or the landscape. I’ve been married to this man since I was 18 and he was 20. And you know how you look at something every single day and don’t notice it changing? I see him all the time, but this body of work allowed me to really examine the changes in his body. He was always this very strong, lean, tall man. Then muscular dystrophy came on, and it’s very hard for both of us to accept that there are many things he can’t do any more: he can walk but not run, he can’t lift heavy things or go up stairs. I’m a slight woman and there are lots of things that I can’t ask him to do for me anymore, like “Can you lift this bag of horse meal?” His left arm and right leg are affected more, but we’re not sure why. One thigh looks like it went to a concentration camp and one bicep is wasted. You don’t exactly want to show your body off when it’s betrayed you in that way. Perhaps being photographed by me is part of Larry’s acceptance of what his body is doing.

I would ask why she felt being naked was the only option to get this message across. Although her husband accepted what his body was doing, surely an heirloom for grandchild would be better with clothes on? The image does ask the viewer to be sensitive and own what they are seeing without shame. I feel she succeeds in doing this.

I thought this was apt.

Graven, of the grave—don’t all photographs (according to Roland Barthes) carry the same knowledge, the implication in their unchanging present of the this-has-been? Isn’t it perfectly redundant to make a photographic record of mortality’s slow and inevitable victory, and to double it in a dead method? No, because this profound and stately pageant is not about the body or one man’s body but about a gaze transfixed by light, a light so strong it seems to bring the body into being in some images and in others to obliterate it. The lover’s gaze, the artist’s gaze is mobilised by light and blinded by it. The radiance lies outside the tragic discourse of time that binds photographer, subject and medium. It lies outside photography and makes it possible. It is the sign of redemption.

You, know I am sat here thinking, how images influence our actions. but as attracted to Sallys work as I am, I usually disagree with her mental process. You see, my husband had cancer and although he survived and had the all clear after a year of treatment, the last thing on my mind was taking photographs of him while he was ill. I took photographs for my kids that they could be proud of, moments they could look back and laugh at. That said, a friend of mind Imelda Bell recently had cancer and took it upon her self to show the faces of cancer she met along the way. People at different stages of cancer. Some that were mid treatment and some that were all clear. As much as these faces and health issues need to be seen the the fact is Imelda got it spot on. It isn't all doom and gloom.

©Imelda Bell

#sallymann #proudflesh #informingcontexts #imeldabell

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