Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012

Beauty & Body Image at Blutstein Brondino Fine Art

Kozerski's Incredible "Half" & "Tag" Photos

By Peggy Sue
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At Blustein Brandino Fine Art in the Historic Third Ward’s Marshall Building, the second floor art gallery exhibits “New Photo Expression 2012.” Included in the excellent exhibition along with Wisconsin's Eddee Daniel and Larry D’Attillo, photographer Julia Koserski presents Half and Tag, which features nude and unretouched self portraits of herself for a very specific purpose. To highlight how airbrushing and photo shopping portraits in magazines, ads and otherwise, influence personal body image, especially when one has a less than a goddess like body to photograph. 

In her artistic statement, Kozerski relates that at age 25 she weighed close to 335 pounds with a body mass index of 49.9 percent. This meant half of her body consisted of fat. While Kozerski committed herself to a healthy program to reduce her body fat, she thought that somehow the perfection on display in the print media could be attained, her depression and self loathing would finally find relief when the weight loss would occur. 

However, after losing over 160 pounds, perfection remained out of view. The large amount of stretched skin from this intense weight loss of body fat is difficult to remove, as is building the muscle that needs to replace the body fat. Desirable body proportions still eluded and elude Kozerski, as do her dreams that the media still invites her to dream of becoming, or this so called reality the media's models portray. . 

Kozerski displays at Blutstein Brandino realistic self-portraits that reveal the truth regarding dramatic weight loss. While Kozerski can now celebrate better health and mobility, other alternatives to purchasing fashionable clothing, her dreams of a “model” body were dashed, unfulfilled after all this self sacrifice. And did this alleviate the depression she suffered? While merely Half of her former self, the photographs present a body and self image Kozerski appears to find in some distress when sorting out the facts from the fallacies of print images and weight loss to attain them.

Besides the provocative self-portraits, Kozerski created a video titled Tag to illustrate how her new body constantly fails to meet what the media videostreams into the minds of young girls, teenagers and women: what an ideal woman should look like, once again glorifying perfect proportions and facial skin. 

Kozerski believes because an individual can immediately access and stream these idyllic bodies onto personal screens in the privacy of a home, or on a cell phone, these images insidiously infiltrate into a woman’s mind. What exactly a woman needs to admire, emulate, imitate and strive for even though their own body and facial features might be within a wonderful range of body types, hair colors, and ethnicities.

Is the perfect body image possible or desirable in contemporary culture? What would that precisely look like if these other images disappeared? While the media attempts to instill this in the public mindset, every man or woman might have a unique perspective or list of qualities that considers his/her “perfect” physical type. Could avid gardner’s choose only one flower to describe as “the most beautiful” or the “prettiest color?” Who would decide if one could decide which flower or plant this would be? Could a ornithologist chose the most beautiful bird: an elegant swan, a colorful flamingo or a delicate hummingbird? Why does media or individuals  feel we need to choose? 

Diversity has been a byword in the 21st century, with allusions to defining beauty with more complexity. This concept seen in contrast to airbrushing supermodels to ridiculous standards of perfection into the realm of fantasy so one never knows if what they are seeing on the page is real. Do viewers prefer the curves of Jennifer Lopez or singer Adelle?  Would we compliment older model Heidi Klum, who recently went barefaced, sans makeup, for a charity advertisement? Or are the petite, slight figures of a Reese Witherspoon/Kristen Stewart more feminine as compared to the darker, radiant skin of Halle Berry, an amazing, appealing woman. Who could choose or why does one need to?  Each culture includes certain physical characteristics that others might immediately exclude for no apparent reason. Could all these women and cultural attributes be admired in every unique woman?

Who decides which person and what these perfect bodies are and why do most women perpetually “buy into” this media induced visual image of beauty? And where does this leave the heart and soul, the personality of the women in the picture, which remains invisible and more significant? Blutstein and Brandino Fine Art’s 2012 exhibition presents numerous photographs worth viewing. Yet, amid these exceptional prints Kozerski’s  Half and Tag asks the viewer to answer these critical and disturbing questions long after fall gallery night, well into the New Year 2013.  

Blutstein Brondino Fine Art presents “New Photo Expression 2012” curated by Stephen M. Brondino continues through December 2. 2012.  A catalogue of the exhibition will be available at the gallery very soon, and for further information please call: 800.737.3715 or visit www.blutstein-brondino.com

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