Berlin : Bettina Rheims
This is the fifth week that this Portfolio of Bettina Rheims appears in the Best of the Week of Le Journal.
Camera Work presents the exhibition "Gender Studies" by Bettina Rheims. Focusing again on transgender, in 2011 the artist created a fascinating portrait series of 25 people who evade categorization of being male or female.
To see and show people in the manner people portrayed see themselves – Bettina Rheims links her humanly approach with her own artistic style and created with »Gender Studies« an impressive series that is of high social aspiration and essential meaning. At the same time it strikes with its atmospheric aesthetics. The project which was initially thought as a call on Facebook for people who feel »different« evolved for Bettina Rheims in an intense project with young transgender that fascinated her by their androgyny and transsexuality. The result presented in the form of large size photographs equals an artistic study of people who act beyond normative and partly stereotyped classifications of gender. It is moreover the exchange between the gender and mood of the portrayed that gives them a sort of freedom within our society, however, the viewer is often confused and at the same time fascinated by that.
The viewer tries to classify the portrayed but they sometimes are in a transient state of change between both sexes and sometimes in a constant balance between them. Wearing cut up, ripped, transparent underwear, the seemingly fragile bodies, equally exposed and veiled, tell the stories of their lives. The eyes of the protagonists sometimes seem brave, sometimes shy but they are all searching for the confrontation with the camera – and the viewer. Whilst they face the camera they trigger the wish to know more about the individuals. The internationally successful top model Andrej Pejic, who works for labels such as Jean-Paul Gaultier or Michalsky both for men’s and women’s wear on the catwalk, is considered to be the epitome of the androgynous model and also belongs to the portrayed like Kael T. Block who was born a girl and whose openly shown scars are a reminiscence of the numerous surgeries. They let us recognize how strangely we react when our habitual perspective is challenged.
The artistic realization is shaped by a pure and cool aesthetic, with a light and clear set up that shows the portrayed from different angles. Although it is a series, the artist manages to clearly show each individual, mental and temperamental differences – some of them radiate strength and confidence, others again an atmospheric and at the same time moving anxiety, shyness or solitude. The depicted persons are connected through the artistic setting with extraordinary Madonna-like presence.
Bettina Rheims was born in 1952 in Neuilly-sur-Seine next to Paris. Her career as a photographer started at the end of the 1970s after working for a short period of time as a model. From then on her interest has centered on feminity with all its erotic and voyeuristic facets. Besides collaboration with prestigious fashion magazines and advertising agencies Bettina Rheims published numerous prestigious photo books, including »Female Trouble« (1991) and »Chambre Close« (1992). While working on the series »Modern Lovers« and the book project »Kim«, which came out of her intense collaboration with the transsexual Kim Harlow, Bettina Rheims developed an interest and artistic involvement with transsexual and transgender. With her project »Modern Lovers« she refers to the play with androgyny. With »Gender Studies« she demonstrate her understanding of transgender and shows with portraits like those of Australian model Andrej Pejic that sexual flexibility allows the individual a lot of freedom. In 1994, her hometown Paris awarded her with the Grand Prix de la Photography.
Bettina Rheims "Gender Studies"
From October 20th to December 1st, 2012
10623 Berlin - Germany
Tuesday to Saturday, 11am until 6pm.