Purity : The transcription of single-line drawing into photography

Idan Wizen tells us about the Purity collection, from the project Who's That Nude In The Living Room

Purity, a collection that is part of the project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, is a series of images, representing different people, in their simplest form, on a very simple background. A white background, synonymous with purity and innocence.
On the idea behind the collection, on the artistic and technical aspects, Idan tells us more about it.


Would you prefer to read than watch a video?

Purity is a collection of the project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, a collection that includes 400 photographs of 400 different people, who came to pose in the simplest way, without artifice, without retouching, and especially without casting. Without casting it means that the 400 people I didn’t choose them, they came with their background, their age, their different morphologies: they are, in general, not professional models, far from it. They are, for the most part, people who pose for the first time.


First of all, can you tell us about the title of this collection? 

The title “Purity” came from a simple idea. I wanted to show that the nude was not necessarily demonized, dirty, as we see a lot in our society. I wanted to show, in fact, a very angelic nude, a nude very close to the authenticity of the human race, its natural state.

I wanted to show a vision of the nude, which was the opposite of the pornographic vision of things, of the even erotic vision. I wanted to show a nude that was as healthy as possible, in every sense of the word.


Why did you take everyday people and not models? 

The idea of taking everyday people is a true idea in all the collections of the project Who’s That Nude In The Living Room, it is for several reasons: above all, I wanted to show and underline the authenticity of humankind, to show its beauty, its university, its diversity at the same time. By taking the models, by making castings on certain people, I would’ve lost some of this authenticity. Of course, I would’ve had people, maybe more comfortable, easier to work with, but that was not my point, that’s not what I meant. 

And then, another thing that interested me was to show that one could be beautiful other than in the criteria, the stereotypes of advertising, of fashion. To show that one could be beautiful differently, otherwise. To show that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and not in numbers, perfect measurements. 


Why a plain white background with a model that merges with it? 

The idea of the white background was for me to emphasize the most angelic side possible. I wanted to have something very simple, very uncluttered, almost something that would make you think of the divine or beyond. To have this simplicity, it allowed me to underline the model, to have this very purified side, also allowed me to underline the specific, the virtuous side of each individual.

It also allowed me to play with breaking the shadows enormously, by making the reference points of gravity disappear. I had a lot of fun shooting from above and below, and losing the viewer’s sense of direction and gravity in the photo, a photo that could be viewed from different angles, in different directions. We don’t really know where the ground was when the picture was taken.   

And then, the idea of losing one’s bearings, of breaking a little bit the traditional codes of the nude photo, often very polished, very worked. Here I wanted something that speaks of the being in its absolute. So, to break it to the maximum of all socio-cultural references, almost physical, that we can have on earth.


Why this effect close to the drawing? 

This idea, close to the drawing, to have a body so exposed, that we were left with only the main lines, was for me a way to express this simplicity, this very refined side and then a very authentic side. I think that in the classical arts, mainly in painting, we will always start with a sketch, with a stroke of the pencil. We’ll usually do that before we put the paint on, and apply the colors. It is a previous step. I wanted to go back to the etiology of creating a classic work and leave more than that, as if these photos could turn into a sketch.


Can you tell us about a few works in particular? 

The first piece I’d like to talk about is HB1232, which is the first piece in the Purity collection. I particularly like it, because it’s what I had in mind when I imagined the collection. What you have to understand is that when I receive the models, I have no idea what they look like, I don’t know how old they are. I can possibly guess their gender by their first name, but it stops there. I have absolutely no information about them. 

And then, in this collection I wanted to speak of course of purity, but also of wisdom, of serenity. I think that the model and the photo we took that day match perfectly. It is a photo for me symbolically that I like very much. I thought it was a nice coincidence that he was the first model in the collection.

The second photo I want to talk about is HB1492. It’s a photograph that reminds me of Bottero’s universe, which is nowadays the opposite of stereotypical, perfect bodies. And yet, I find it beautiful. I find her extremely graphic. I like her curves, I like her look that challenges the viewer to look at her, to find her beautiful, to be inspired by her, to let herself go. By the way, you have it right here. It’s a photo that speaks to me a lot. 

The third piece I want to talk about is HB1464. It is a work that I particularly like for its graphics, but also for all these stories in which we can immerse ourselves, by going to look at all his tattoos. It’s a photo that is very aesthetic, I really like the posture of this young woman, her very defiant look, warning the viewer to judge her for all her tattoos, but it’s a work that I think I have a little less credit for than the others because part of the credit goes to the different tattoo artists who worked on her body, who transformed her body into a work of art on its own. 


How do you like this collection to be displayed? 

What I like about the Purity collection when it’s exhibited in galleries, festivals, or private homes, is that it can be displayed in two different ways: either as a mosaic of small works that will show the diversity of humanity. Showing that each being is complementary to the other, and that we can build gigantic mosaics with the association of these images, which render really well, which make almost a tile wall.

But on the other hand, you can also make bigger works. I also make prints that are up to 80 x 120 cm. And there you can emphasize the uniqueness of each person, their beauty, their look, their expressions. I find that these photos work just as well when combined together as when displayed alone.