Zed Nelson’s award-wining and profoundly affecting photographic series “Love Me” illustrates the great lengths to which men and women all over the world go in their quests for beauty (not to mention the sort of attention that tends to accompany it). Nelson takes us to China, Malaysia, Tehran, Rio, New York, and, of course, Texas. He introduces us to some of the individuals that hold themselves to these impossible (and largely Caucasian) standards of beauty as they get waxed, sculpted, bleached, and scrutinized. We meet Anthony Mascolo, a 46-year-old New Jersey man who underwent liposuction on his chin and stomach (“I’m competing with men 20 years younger than me,” he told the photographer at the time) and Kristen O’Connell, a perfectly trim 13-year-old girl photographed at a New York state weight-loss camp boasting “I’ve been here ten days and lost eight pounds so far.” Nelson takes into operating rooms around the globe, backstage at cringe-worthy beauty pageants, and inside magazines like—we kid you not—Brazil’s Plastica & Beleza (a.k.a. Plastic Surgery & Beauty).
“We have created a world in which there are enormous social, psychological and economic rewards and penalties attached to the way we look,” Nelson writes in an artist’s statement about the series. “Can any of us honestly say, ‘I don’t want to be attractive?’ Don’t we all want to be loved? But have we been brainwashed into believing that in order to be loved we need smaller noses, bigger breasts, tighter skin, longer legs, flatter stomachs and to appear ever youthful? Where does it end?”
It’s an important issue—and one that’s not going away anytime soon as models and actors remain underfed and mostly white. But perhaps we can do something on a micro level with New Year’s resolutions geared toward inner beauty and deeper intellect as opposed to toned abs and a button-like snout.
Photos: © 2010 Zed Nelson – www.ZedNelson.com
When the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan Leaf electric cars launched in December 2010, major automakers began selling plug-in cars again for the first time in 80 years. The numbers will be small at first, but plug-in vehicles will grow over the next 20 or 30 years to become a substantial portion of global production.
Cars running on energy produced by the electricity grid emit substantially less “wells to wheels” carbon in operation than do gasoline cars burning gasoline, even those that return 40 miles per gallon. Analyst and writer John Voelcker, who edits GreenCarReports.com, explains the Volt and how it works, and discusses the energy and policy implications of such a momentous change.
Authors of the book “Aging in America: The Years Ahead,” which chronicles the country’s fastest-growing segment of the population, Winokur and Kashi decided to tell their own story as they took on the care of Winokur’s father. In “Living Your Subjects”, they have created an honest, intimate account of their own shifting — and challenging — responsibilities, as well as some of their unexpected joys.
Tis the season…for leftovers. Sure, this stuff only really keeps for one or two days, but California-based photographer Mary Parisi has found another way to put shrink-wrapped ham, spare ribes, and meatloaf to very good use. Approaching her possibly stinky subjects as sculptural objects in their own right, Parisi transforms holiday relics into compositions that lie somewhere between pure abstraction, alien life forms (The Blob, anyone?), other worldly landscapes, and whatever might be lurking in the high school science lab over winter break. Parisi succeeds at capturing the unnatural textures, flakes, and condensation. Lesson learned here: don’t judge a photographic subject by its expiration date—or smell.
Photos: © 2011 Mary Parisi – www.MaryParisi.com
In an ongoing series of elegant, largely landscape-driven photographs, Brooklyn-based photographer Rachel Sussman focuses her lens on what are definitively the oldest living organisms in the world (i.e. plants, forestry, coral, and fungi that have been around for upwards of 2,000 years). The project, titled “The Oldest Living Things,” has taken Sussman everywhere from Greenland to Tobago to Fish Lake, Utah (where she shot an 80,000-year-old network of trees). She works closely with biologists in each locale to locate and date her subjects and, to her credit, it’s been a mutually beneficial endeavor: before Sussman came along there was no artistic or scientific index of what she calls “global species longevity.” Sussman’s project has an environmental edge to it as well, drawing our attention to these twisted, knobby, misshapen, and monumental feats of mindboggling sustainability.
Photos: © 2010 Rachel Sussman – www.RachelSussman.com
It’s a near universal reflex… First, the tension—every muscle in your body contracts and spasms as you try to ward off your attacker. Limbs kick, swat, and flail about. Eventually, you hunch over, thinking that might help. Then come the fits of laughter. It’s nervous laughter, loud laughter, hooting-howling-squealing laughter, and laughter that, like everything else, you just can’t seem to control.
Yep, being ticklish is an innately uncomfortable phenomenon that afflicts many of us—and one that the Brooklyn-based photographer Jonathan Grassi has set out to document quite poignantly. Grassi captures his subjects mid-spasm, mid-swat, mid-laugh as they react to an unseen tickler. The results are captivating. Cropped just so, Grassi shows the body in full reaction mode, stretching, twisting, and contorting as someone else, even just momentarily, assumes its control.
Photos: © 2010 Jonathan Grassi – www.JonathanGrassi.com
Photographers have long excelled at making the private public—showing us what we don’t (or, in many cases, can’t) necessarily see; taking us somewhere new, somewhere strange, somewhere that is perhaps off-limits. S. Billie Mandle quietly elegant series “Reconciliation” does exactly that. The Brooklyn-based shutterbug has photographed dozens of Catholic Church confessionals, showing us the various places where devotees bear all to a presumably patient (albeit unseen) priest on the other side of a wall, screen, or window. The imagery is stunning, but Mandle’s confessional photographs go far beyond religious imagery. They are about communication—the perforated walls and thick screens that divide the confessor from the priest, the clinical nature of some of these sacred spaces, and the sort of separate-togetherness fostered within.
Photos: © 2010 Billie Mandle – www.BillieMandle.com
We just can’t get enough of these lo-fi special effects… The New York-based photographer Brendan Austin uses paint, crinkly paper, and deft craftsmanship to build miniature crags and rugged cliffs. He then photographs his creations—to alarming realistic effects. The resulting series, titled “Paper Mountains,” succeeds on so many levels. Austin shows us the intricacy that lies within the sort of things we see, make, and discard on a daily basis; he reminds us of the tremendous aesthetic potential of basic art-making tools (i.e. paper, paint, cameras); and he proves that you don’t necessarily need Photoshop (or a helicopter, for that matter) to compose a good shot.
Photos: © 2010 Brendan Austin – www.BrendanAustin.com
San Francisco-based photographer Christina Seely wants to bring things back down to Earth. Her “Lux” series starts with NASA composite imagery of the entire planet at night. It’s sort of the inverse of looking up at the stars—flickers of light denote people as the most densely-populated regions of the world correlate with those bearing the most artificial light. Seely traveled to these flickering locales (Las Vegas, Tokyo, and Madrid among them), taking portraits of these manmade urban centers that are so big, so bright, that they’re recognizable even from space. Seely frames much of her work with elements of the natural landscapes (trees, mountains, craggy cliffs)—a reminder, perhaps, that if we learn to keep our consumption in check we can, just maybe, have it both ways.
Photos: © 2010 Christina Seely – www.ChristinaSeely.com