joel-peter witkin’s work surfaces quite often in my research on identity and corporeal realities. although his ideas and depictions are never short of reinterpretations of medievalist anxieties with similarities to subversive prints from that age, i can’t deny that his morbid imagery does a lot to illustrate the unwavering human fascination with being human. it seems we cannot exhaust our interest in ourselves. this subjectivity becomes the backbone of societies, economics and politics alike. the dismembered still life technique he often uses is a perfect metaphor for our dysfunctional appetite for perfection. looking at cure-all commercials and such one can easily draw the comparison with witkin’s work and images of a body conscious society. what is even more interesting to me is his use of deformity and bodily irregularity to illustrate how strong this notion of biological perfection and the status of beauty remains in our modern psyche.
undoubtably witkin suffers from a similar awareness and i find the way that he communicates it so arresting that i have often used it as a desktop wallpaper. his work goes beyond alternative beauty, to me it balances the physically obsessed behaviour and in a near fatalistic way highlights the importance of being; that is to say we are more than the sum of our parts. it challenges a complacency and acceptance of our own ideas of perfection and our relationship with our own imperfections. this is a healthy start to any day; the bombardment of beautifulism can be the equivalent of a diet of margarine.