NYT Article about "Maximum Beauty": Leonard Nimoy's project photographing large size women nude

Discussion in 'News' started by ellis_vener_photography, May 13, 2007.

  1. Girth and Nudity, a Pictorial Mission
    Leonard Nimoy has been working on a series of photographs called Maximum Beauty, some of which will be coming out in book form , along with a touring exhibit.
    These women are not hiding beneath muumuus or waving from the bottom of the Grand Canyon à la Carnie Wilson in early Wilson Phillips videos. They are fleshy and proud, celebrating their girth, reveling in it. It is, Mr. Nimoy says, "a direct response to the pressure women face to conform to a Size 2."
    "The average American woman...weighs 25 percent more than the models who are showing the clothes they are being sold...So, most women will not be able to look like those models. But they are being presented with clothes, cosmetics, surgery, diet pills, diet programs, therapy, with the idea that they can aspire to look like those people. It is a big, big industry. Billions of dollars. And the cruelest part of it is that these women are being told, 'You don't look right.' "

    This is the former actor's second controversial photography project. Acouple of years ago he also riled up some people with The Shehkina Project
    [news editor applicant]
  2. Ellis, I'm surprised you consider this 'controversial' in the way that Shekhina was. Shekhina,
    to my mind, wasn't really controversial, but a weird mix of pretty and crass.

    This work is unexploitative, representative of fact, and fairly well shot. If you're calling it
    controversial, that needs to be qualified in your article, or it becomes your opinion. Where
    are the people who don't think it's a good idea, and what is it about it that they consider
    bad? Something isn't controversial just because it goes against conventional opinion or
    market trends.

    As an aside, Dove (soaps, beauty products) in the UK have a (rather elegant and
    heartwarming) marketing thing called 'The Campaign For Real Beauty', which has been
    going on long enough to make Nimoy's work seem rather old hat.
  3. The Dove campaign is global. You used to see posters for it in the Boston T (subway/metro/underground)
  4. Michael,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I used the adjective controversial to describe the work as it definitely challenges and disagrees with the conventional standards of what is considered the ideal and idealized shape of female beauty. compare what you see in Nimoy's photographs to the vast majority of the "artistic" "figure studies" you find here in photo.net's galleries. And according to the article in the New York Times the project has generally been well received but some have been shocked by it.

    The Shekhina Project certainly stirred up a great deal of controversy in Jewish circles.

    As a side note what Nimoy is doing has a photographic precedent in Irving Penn's very fleshy nudes from the late 1940s. Those works only saw the light of day in the late 1980s or early 1990s.
  5. Ellis, I'm glad you took my comments so well; on reading them back they have the edge of
    a man who had not yet had his morning coffee, for which I apologise - though I have to
    say I remain somewhat bemused at the idea that this work would shock anyone in a nation
    which is, on average, close to Nimoy's eligibility requirements.

    I think it's a real shame we don't see more work of this kind among the nudes on
    photo.net, and I find it difficult to believe this is because of a lack of willing subjects.

    I'm not that familiar with Penn, though. When I saw Nimoy's photographs I was reminded
    of the brilliant but peculiar Jan Saudek.

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