Everyone can be an artwork!
Everyone can be a work of art
In a society where the canons of beauty are in perpetual evolution, how to accept ourselves as we are, without feeling that we are subject to the criteria of the moment? To enlighten us, we meet with Idan Wizen, a Parisian photographer, specializing in artistic nudes, celebrating in his work not only the diversity of the beauty but also its originality.
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Hello, I am Idan Wizen, an artist-photographer in Paris. I have been working for more than 10 years now on the place of aesthetics and mainly of the human body in society and in its different forms.
How have the canons of beauty evolved through the centuries?
The criteria of aestheticism and the way we look at the body have evolved over time along with humanity. If we focus on the female body, the first information we have on the prehistoric ideal of beauty is mainly a reference to fertility. An opulent breast, a belly, round hips. These are all the traces that remain to us where we can find these criteria.
If I pass very quickly through the centuries and if I arrive at the Florentine Renaissance, we can have a criterion that seems ridiculous to us today – the fronts had to be extremely large. For this reason, the women of the time would shave and pluck the top of the forehead and the beginning of the hair to have the impression of having an extremely large forehead.
A few decades later we will find Rubens and extremely round women, full-bodied with very milky skins which will mainly change compared to our criteria today.
Today we can see that even in a few decades we have deeply evolved. If we look at the beauty canons in the 70s, we see that women were extremely thin, without forms, almost “boyish”.
In the 80s and 90s, we find women who are much fuller in the chest mainly.
And then until the 2000s, when we see the whole body that is enormously rounded like, for example, Kim Kardashian today.
What about the criteria of beauty today?
In our current society, I think that we have less of a single criterion as we could have in the past decades or centuries. We have a society that allows several forms of criteria, even if they are all quite strict, they are all within the frames, but we accept several frames in our society. Perhaps thanks to the multiplication of alternative modes of communication, which are no longer only big media, like TV or newspapers, as we had in the 20th century. What is important to understand is that we were in a time when there was only one mode, which was defined by a class, and everybody followed more or less, but it was really the dominant mode, and it is what remains to us.
Today, in our society we can see that we have several fashions according to our socio-cultural origins, according to our social class, and we will have a little bit the same thing in the criteria of aestheticism on the beautiful.
Sociologically, why do we need a reference?
I believe that we need reference, criteria of aestheticism for two reasons: the first it is what is going to allow us to have our own taste. It is very difficult to know what is beautiful, when we have never seen something. When you have never seen a rose, it is very difficult to know if this flower is beautiful or not compared to the other flowers, and even between the different roses.
It is a bit like what happens with the human eye, we will adapt and therefore we will have the tastes of others that will allow us to create references, and to be able to position ourselves in relation to that. This is the first point.
The second point, much more marketing, is that it is important to have references and models of beauty, which allow us to communicate on it, which allow us to sell, to show, to make us dream, to idealize.
That’s why even if the criteria evolve, we always remain with an ideal of beauty that lasts in time.
Do you find everybody beautiful?
As a human being, as a person, no, I can’t find everyone beautiful. On the other hand, as an artist, yes, I like to believe it, I like to believe that everyone can be beautiful, because he has something to evoke, to show, to transmit. And if not everyone can be beautiful in the eyes of everyone, I think that everyone can be beautiful in the eyes of some people who will find him or her beautiful.
That’s the idea of the project, it’s not to say that “all the bodies are beautiful, and I love all the pictures”, but “I like some people”, who are not in the criteria, ideals of our society, of our time, but who can please otherwise, differently to someone by a smile, by a look, by an attitude, by an expression, by a curve, by its flaws, because the flaws are also part of the beautiful.
Does finding a body beautiful systematically imply a sexual attraction?
No, I like to think not and fortunately. I think that we can find a body beautiful for its aestheticism, for its forms, without necessarily being sexually attracted by it. For my part, I can marvel at a landscape, nature, a flower, a plant, an animal. I think we can also marvel at a body without necessarily wanting to reproduce with it.
Everybody can come and pose for you. Do you think you can make everyone beautiful?
Yes, I am persuaded of it, at least, I like to think so. Indeed, I could not make people beautiful without retouching, without artifice, and to make them look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, if I do not make a casting before. That’s for sure, but that’s not the goal. The goal is for them to be beautiful in their own way, with their own qualities, their own flaws, their own imperfections, their own charms.
If I wouldn’t make sure that everyone would please everyone, I am convinced that each person who comes to pose here, can please someone who will see this photo, who will be under the charm of a look, a smile, a curve, a shape, an imperfection, because imperfections mark us and affect us.
So yes, I think that everyone can be beautiful, but not necessarily according to the ideals of beauty of our current society.
And the people who come to pose, do they find themselves beautiful?
When we come to do a photo shoot, we will take about 150 photos for each person, and we will keep only one. Indeed, they will not find themselves beautiful in all the photographs, but we will choose them together, we will eliminate, we will sort, we will choose, and we will choose only one on which, generally, they find themselves beautiful. But they will find themselves beautiful for other reasons, which they could have thought of before. Beautiful by an expression, a smile, something they will give off and they will see themselves differently than in a mirror. The mirror is extremely distorting. And that allows me to go beyond photography.
Can we learn to find ourselves beautiful?
Yes, of course. One can learn to find oneself beautiful, as one learns to love oneself. Our own look is extremely distorting, and much more critical, than what we can see in others. On ourselves we are going to be very acerbic, and it is the way with which we will learn to look at ourselves, to evolve, and to make things change.
Like any other being, we have flaws and qualities. The question is to know what we are worth first, what we will look at first and whether we will be able to get past our imperfections, our flaws.
This comes with time, with training, with psychological work, but also a lot with photography, which allows you to have a slightly different look, and to see yourself in the eyes of others. To do a little bit of the low-level philosophy, it is to see the glass half full and not half empty.