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Ella Dreyfus

“Ella Dreyfus' photographic works engage with representations of the body. She endeavors to find ways to depict and empower those who do not conform to the dominant aesthetic standards. Hovering between fine art and documentary photography, her images embrace the ordinary, striking a rich source of humanity, compassion and emotional resonance.

Dreyfus’ black and white photographs are an exploration of the human body when its condition appears to threaten the social order. At certain times of life and in certain conditions, the tenuous nature of the relationship between the body and its borders and boundaries are disturbed. A person’s response to their changing physical condition may challenge their self-perception, identity and sense of mortality.

The subjects of these photographs can be seen as abject in their inability to be symbolically contained – their physicality spills out and disturbs conventional codes of normality. The subjects have included people who are pregnant (Pregnancy Series, 1992; The Body Pregnant, 1993) fat (Fat And Ugly: Written On My Body, 1995), circumcised (ReMember, 1996; Covenant, 1997), scarred, aged and ill (Age and Consent, 1999) and transgendered (Transman, 2001). Her series about pre-pubescent boys (Under Twelves, 2005) depicts young males as they hover on the cusp of childhood and adolescence, traversing both the feminine and masculine worlds.

Although many of these physical conditions are common experiences, they have all suffered from a lack of visual representation. When such images are encountered they are often presented as either the objects of medical scrutiny, the butt of humour, or the focus of pity or ridicule. Dreyfus’ images show respect towards, and bestow dignity upon, her naked subjects, all of whom consented to her work. The unseen, loss of visibility, acceptability and identity are issues that have been central to Dreyfus’ work.”

(Ella Dreyfus, 2006)