What attracts us about a being we know nothing about?
What do we like about someone we know nothing about?
Meeting with Idan Wizen, Parisian photographer, specialist of the artistic nude, founder of an artistic project Who’s that nude in the living room?, to talk about beauty, attraction. His approach on the subjectivity of beauty questions us and pushes us to question our criteria of aestheticism.
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Hello, I am Idan Wizen, an artist-photographer in Paris. I founded the project Who’s that nude in the living room? in 2009, which is an art project that allows everyone to come and pose in the simplest of clothes, regardless of their age, body type, or origin. There is absolutely no casting. From each individual we will keep only one photograph, which will be exhibited in galleries, festivals, and eventually in private homes.
What is the questioning on the level of attraction that you wish to submit to the spectator via your artistic project?
If the idea of taking naked people was important to me, it is not for erotic or sexual reasons. The whole idea of the project was to take individuals out of their socio-cultural context. We don’t have any other information than what we can see on the picture, neither name, nor age, nor profession. Clothes are something that positions us socially, whether we like it or not, we choose our clothes and they will say things about us, about our social status, in any case about the image we want to show.
By removing them, we leave much more freedom of interpretation to the spectator and it is what brought me in the case of this project.
And the models, how do they react when they see the photos after the session?
As for the models, it’s always interesting. Most of the people who come to see me are convinced that they won’t like themselves in pictures. They’ve done some with their family, and they don’t like themselves. They have complexes in general about their bodies. They often come thinking that they will not like the result.
And when we take the time to look at the photographs, most of the time, they see something else. They manage to stop focusing on these details, on their flaws that make them feel complex, but they see a whole where they will find themselves beautiful, they will look at themselves differently, they will learn to love themselves. I find this very interesting. Often when we look at ourselves in the mirror, the mirror makes us “deformed”. We will concentrate our attention on something we don’t like. When we see ourselves in photography, we take a necessary step back, that of the photographer’s eye.
Why do you think it is important to have artwork at home? And why a print of a naked person that you don’t know?
I’ve been asked a lot: “Why have a small, large, very large nude of a person you’ve never seen? It’s not a star, it’s not a model, it’s an everyday person.”
I think there are two things: the first is to say that nudity in the context of photography, it’s not there to be sexual arousal, to be erotic. I think that when you look at my photographs, it is not what you see. The goal is to break the socio-cultural context of the person, and to imagine him in a job, in life, a profession, a time that we want and that we wish.
For me the idea in looking at a photograph is to have an introduction of a novel. The first page. The one that will give us the first frame. And then it’s up to the viewer to imagine, to invent the rest, to let himself go, to dream. And that’s what I find beautiful in art, it’s the way in which each person can feel a work differently, interpret it differently, and go where they want to go.
What I find very strong is that each time you look at it again, you can invent a different story, a different novel, and let yourself wander, travel in your imagination.
I have a deep conviction that you never get tired of a work of art, you learn to love it more and more with time. The more time you take to look at it, the more you learn to appreciate it. That’s what I find magical about it.
To come back to the initial question: to have a nude at home of a person we don’t know is to say to ourselves that it could be a person we could meet, who could please us, not necessarily on a sexual level, but on a complement in life that we lack, and it is there that all the imagination comes into play, and it is what I find interesting.