Once in the Garden
Exhibition Once In The Garden at OstLicht. Galerie für Fotografie
Publication: Brandstätter Verlag
Publication date: 2014
Credits: Ostlicht. Galerie, Life Ball, Ariel Rosenbloom, Isabelle Goebel
Format: 9.6L" x 8.31”
Features: 56 pages
Language: English, German
Introduction by Ariel Rosenbloom:
Q: Were you born a boy or a girl?
A: I was born a baby.*
Photography in the service of pornography forces us to view the body not as a whole but as separate parts and pieces. But what if we were able to view our flesh as something more? In a culture where the accessibility of the Internet has desensitized us to the ubiquitous erotic image, it is time to reassess the impact these images have on our psyche. To think this deluge of photographic material has not changed us is naïve; indeed it has greatly altered the way we associate and engage with the nude.
Artist David LaChapelle proposes that if we see the human form as a “housing of the soul” then what we have between our legs should no longer be a crucial point of interest. It is vital, he says, to look at the figure in photography with fresh eyes, to free ourselves of judgment and open up to enlightenment, allowing ourselves to bask in the beauty of the human form – no matter what that form may be. By reexamining the way we define sex and gender, LaChapelle rejects the “shock” or “edge” of nudity, instead choosing to emphasize the ecstasy of the figure, drawing our eyes away from objectification and towards emphatic celebration.
“Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”
-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
There is an indelible, fervent light present in LaChapelle’s work. Whether he’s depicting glowing landscapes, nudes in nature, intricate still lifes, or large-scale, theatrical tableaux and portraits, there remains an undercurrent of hope – the kind that arises in times of crises and brings people together. LaChapelle reminds us that life is fleeting, and that to lead a fulfilling existence we must concentrate on what is most important: reconnecting with nature and respecting our bodies and the earth. In a culture where everything around us is disposable, LaChapelle’s work transcends the material world, both bringing attention to the frivolity of consumerism and celebrity, and focusing on what is irreplaceable: the sanctity of the human body and soul, and the earth to which we will one day return.
*Paraphrased from an interview between CNN anchor Piers Morgan and author and trans advocate Janet Mock