Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Thirty-two kilos"

A new exhibit called "Thirty-Two Kilos" opened tonight at the Goethe- Institut in Washington, D.C. It is a collection of digitally manipulated photos looking like emaciated, anorexic models (posed by her friends, not real models) by German photographer, Ivonne Thein. Thein says this was her response after feeling shocked at pro-ana websites.

However, as with many creative expressions of art, it is not always intended as it is meant to be. You can better believe that the pro-ana websites have taken a liking to these photos, calling them "thinspiration."

One commenter said, "Those pics are beautiful! I want to look like them! They look so fragil [sic] and like an angel."

Thein says,
"That's not what I wanted. It's important for me that if I show my pictures, there's a statement that it's a critical position and I don't glamorize anorexia."

Although I know this photographer is not trying to glamorize eating disorders, it is unfortunate that this is part of the outcome. It seems just like another "shock" value content in perhaps preaching to the wrong audience. Then again, maybe I'd feel different if I saw the exhibit in person. There is always a different element with that.

If anyone sees this exhibit in person, I'm interested to hear your thoughts. Do you feel like the photographer made her point? Is shock value the way to go for change?

Sources: Pro-anorexia
websites inspire controversial photo exhibit
'Thirty-Two Kilos': A stark look at anorexia

Other photos from the exhibit here

*Thirty-two kilos is about seventy pounds


Anonymous said...

Yet another great example of how my ED voice is still wonderfully overactive, and as soon as I read the RSS feed, ED squealed:

"Oooooh Photos's skinny pictures wahooo"

Strangely I must be making progress though, because I didn't feel much in the way of satisfaction from the picture.

So I am going to say, no the photographer has merely fueled the fire. But then if someone is that way inclined, anything meant as a warning will have more thrill factor than fear!

Lola x

Cammy said...

Echo Lola on all counts.

zandria said...

I heard about it, and I work in DC, but I won't be going to see it. Even if she had good intentions, and even though the photos are digitally altered, I'm not interested in seeing people looking like that.

Kim said...

(Comment attempt #2...first one failed)

I fear that the artist's intentions, though good, will be misinterpreted. This didn't have much effect on me, but it would have at an earlier stage in my recovery. The thing is that we live in a society with some messed up ideas about the female body. I don't know if people are "ready" to see this how she wants them to see it. It's a nice idea though...

Kara said...

I live in DC, but will not be going to see the exhibit. My first reaction when I read your post was anger, anger at the artist. She says it wasn't her intent to be pro-ana, but I think her showing these photos are the same thing as what the media is doing by showing thin girls in magazines. I'm not a fan.

kb said...

I'm not a photographer or much of any type of an artist, but I do undestand her position, wanting to play with ideas and images and challenge people. If viewers prefer to see this is "Thinspiration", I don't think that the artist can control that reaction. However, I strongly reject the notion that she "shouldn't" have explored this idea. Not to offend people, but I think it's a bit self-absorbed and extremely limited to censor an artist because his/her work might trigger people.
- Kristina

Just Eat It! said...

I saw an article about this in the Washington Post yesterday and was very disturbed. I live right outside of DC and will definitely not be going to see this exhibit. The Post printed a very triggering photo and I sent them a nasty letter.

Tiptoe said...

Good thoughts, everyone! I think when you're working within the arts medium, it can be a difficult thing. There will always be people who support the project and others who criticize it.

I see this photographer's point, but people will take what they want from it. In my opinion, it is a bit unfair to the artist that her viewpoint can't be seen as what she hoped.

If I were in DC, I doubt I'd see the exhibit. I am not always for "shock" value.

MelissaS said...

i hadn't heard about this exhibit.from the photo you posted, it all looks very glamorous. great hair, great outfit, great lighting. and the word "thinspiration" makes it sound nice, not deadly. where's the horror?

Tiptoe said...

MelissaS, I think that is the thing. These photos do look glamorous, so it's feeding into the pro-ana inspiration. An average female adult at thirty-two kilos does not look glamorous. Rachel at The F-Word has a good post about it.

Kyla said...

using pictures of anorexics to fight anorexia? A bit paradoxical, if you ask me.

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