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#BJP 7870: The Figure – Adornment & Identity

We focus on the way artists and photographers have depicted the human body in their work - and how contemporary image-makers are bending its boundaries

“Throughout human history the depiction of the human body has been curiously investigated,” writes BJP‘s assistant editor, Izabela Radwanska Zhang. “In its rawest form, artists have dedicated their lives to perfecting it on paper – god and icons of religion and spirituality rendered in perfect anatomy. This changed with the arrival of the camera, and gradually our viewpoints of the figure became manifold.”

We contemplate some of these viewpoints in this issue, which looks at the depiction of the human form and the ways in which contemporary image-makers are pushing its representation. From Amsterdam, we have Carla van de Puttelaar and her compelling work on the female nude, which takes inspiration from the Old Masters. Photographing female figures of the art world, Van de Puttelaar creates portraits that are both elegant and empowering in her ongoing project Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World.

Elsewhere, we feature a new three-part project by co-curators Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall titled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, which explores the changing representation of the body in the ever-morphing fashion world. “It’s about the way that the body’s positioned, and how that alters our reading of the clothes,” explains Marshall, who along with Hay recognised the emergence of unconventional styling in fashion photography. 

In our cover feature we present the photographer/stylist duo Crosslucid, who dig into complex themes surrounding the body, gender, landscape in their assemblages of portraits and still life shots, often with bizarre and intriguing results, to explore how people construct their identity. 

Our interview with French photographer Bettina Rheims spotlights her project Détenues [Detained], which was shot inside women’s prisons across France. With her portraits she attempts to normalise the women who have become inmates, and restore the dignity and femininity often stripped from them in the institutions.

In our featured projects we share work from Italian photographer Guido Castagnoli, who photographs figures of Berlin’s thriving techno music scene in his monochrome series Technobodies; we also discover the immersive installations of Emmaline Zanelli and Patricia Voulgari’s photographs, which meld the body with found objects. 

Included in our Agenda section, we reveal the five shortlistees of this year’s IPA, feature The Grand Tour as it takes over various venues in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire for a series of artistic exhibitions, and talk with Haley Morris-Cafiero about facing off her cyberbullies. 

Plus, we review Norway’s National Gallery’s latest exhibition Faithless Pictures, look at the new breed of ‘movement directors’ in photography, chat with Ladybeard’s Tyro Heath, and review the Hasselblad X1D. 

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