Friday, April 20, 2012

Meditations on the Disabled Body

"Physically and psychologically disabled people still aren’t very well accepted in society,” says photographer Denis Darzacq. “And this is a situation that artists have to take care of."

You can read more about this exhibition HERE.

My blogger friend Chrissy of Silver Fin of Hope sent me the link to this article, and when I scrolled through the photographs I was both drawn in by their intent and beauty and then repelled by an intimation of exploitation. I still haven't parsed out that intimation -- was it because I wondered if the souls that were photographed were truly aware of themselves or were, rather, revealed by the photographer? 

What do you think?


  1. I think they're aware...completely aware. I think we just can't know the plan that the Universe has for the souls of these wonderful people. That sounds corny, but it's how I feel. (psst...thanks for the shoutout, Elizabeth!) xoxoxo

  2. I find the photos very beautiful - bodies in motion and bodies still, bodies entwined. People with disabilities are so invisible in our culture, it is good to see them celebrated and treated like good photographic subjects, like everyone else. The photos don't feel exploitative to me. One could ask if Diane Arbus' subjects were exploited (and some believe they were), or Dorthea Lange's dust bowl families. Showing hardship, showing the invisible, is one of the tasks of the artist. Lovely.

  3. In the article, the photographer wanted his subjects to think of poses that would go well with his earlier series HYPER. It really sounds like it was a collaboration between photographer and subject ... and that is very exciting. He is right that art has a role to play. There is real joy portrayed here ... not unlike your own photographs of Sophie.

  4. I understand why you felt the way you did when you saw the photos. I had to read the article a few times to really feel like I could see why he was doing the project and get comfortable that they weren't exploited.

    Ultimately, I think it's a great idea. The more we are exposed to differences of all kinds, the less frightening and unusual they seem. I was in the grocery store this morning and there was a teenage boy wandering around humming really loudly to himself and occasionally hollering, "Looo-weee!" and it really made some people in the store uncomfortable. It was easy to see he was just enjoying himself and his mother was half an aisle behind keeping an eye on him. For those individuals who haven't been around kids like him much, I'm sure it was strange. The more they can have experiences that reassure them he is no danger to them or himself, the better, I think.

  5. I did go and take a look at the photos and had some discomfort with some of them, but overall I think he went for moments of grace and/or connection. Like the series you took of Sophie in Pink, hard to get the shot you want, whether the subject "has control of their body" or not. (I know I have trouble not being captured with a weird look on my face in pictures.) We can't know how many shots he took to get the ones he chose to show.

    Thanks for yet another thought provoking post!
    x0 N2

  6. From a purely legal aspect he had to have a photo release signed in order to publish and none of the subjects could sign this if they were legally declared incompetent. I wonder how he worked that?



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