They’re talking about the project

Bernard Minier is a photographer and curator of the festival “Regards sur le Corps” at Arles, France

Idan Wizen, whom we have chosen to exhibit for the twelfth edition of the “Regards sur le Corps” festival in Arles, is a talented and inventive young photographer.

We were also won over by her participation in a shooting workshop for festival visitors.

His approach, which is part of a tradition of popular photography, seemed, to me and to all the festival team, innovative and generous, based on principles that can only unite and make it essential.

His work is based on a modern aesthetic taking shape thanks to a solid, precise technique, but never restrictive for the people photographed who lend themselves to the photographer’s goal.

The asserted color and light codes shape his art, immediately detaching Idan’s work to make it identifiable without confusion, and to positively distinguish it from an international production sometimes difficult to define.

Its strength is its universality, the same codes addressing everyone, leveling political, religious or social origins …

A great lesson in good citizenship. A human and sensitive photograph turned towards the others, Idan gives to share a beautiful example of openness. The fact of receiving without criteria without exception gives all its force to the concept, and will give birth to a large collection and will leave a sociological testimony that will count.

The legitimacy of this work will be done over time.

The interest of the general public, which is increasing in number each year to support the artist’s positive and modern approach, as well as listening to the institutions that frequently associate this young photographer with their programs (festivals, galleries, shows) are signs that do not deceive.

Recognized artist today Idan Wizen will be essential tomorrow.

The French Society of Plastic Aesthetic Surgeons (SOFCEP) has just published the book “Surgeons in a world that operates the image”. Collection of artists, philosophers, doctors, politicians … on our society and our relationship to the body and the image. Here is an excerpt from an Interview with Idan Wizen talking about the project “Who’s that nude In The Living Room?”


Show yourself, accept yourself? Who’s that nude in the living room?

Photograph nude anonymous. The initiative immediately brings to mind the great happenings organized by the American Spencer Tunick: crowds in the clothes of Adam and Eve offering themselves to the artist’s objective. But the approach of Idan Wizen, a young 26-year-old photographer is in another register. His “anonymous”, far from melting into a human mass which dissolves them, which makes them all alike, reveal themselves on the contrary, reveal their uniqueness by posing in the most natural costume and the most difficult to wear. Anonymous? No, unknown, who are not in search of fame or fame, but in search of themselves in an aesthetic and personal approach shared with the artist-photographer.

Genesis of a project

April 2009. The desire to create, to offer a work halfway between art and advertising is gaining ground. Idan Wizen launches his project “A naked anonymous in the living room”. The idea: to photograph strangers in their simplest camera. “There is no casting, no selection criteria. Anyone can come, young, old, tall, short, slender or muscular, fat or thin, tattooed, scarified … “Anyone who wants to be photographed can contact the artist. The only constraint is that they accept the contract: naked photos, which conceal neither the face nor the look. Only one, the best, will be kept and will be printed in eight original copies. It can be presented at exhibitions, sold to amateurs wishing to exhibit “a naked anonymous in their living room” and disseminated on the net. If the beginnings were laborious word-of-mouth now works well. There is no shortage of candidates. Some even come from abroad … To date, more than one hundred and fifty portraits have been produced. Idan Wizen wishes to continue the experience to bring together a real book, multiethnic, which summarizes, let’s be modest, humanity … Neither weariness nor repetitivity in this work? “Even if the poses are sometimes very close, each model tells its own truth, each photo is unique” certifies the artist. “We are all alike and all different … This project aims to be universal. To better fight against the standardization of aesthetic criteria. ”

The artist, an awakener

I have always wondered how mentalities evolve, by what mechanisms the representations of the world are transformed, confides Wizen. Why at one time an idea is not socially acceptable when, a few decades later, it is obvious to everyone. Take the example of the women’s vote: it is an irrefutable principle today, but a century ago it was the subject of violent controversy. “Seeking to understand the sources of this” collective unconscious “is also studying ways to modify it. Because he handles the image, this pub son (he holds a master’s degree from Sup de Pub, Paris, and a graduate of the University of Arts in London) therefore chose the image to operate, at his way, the way we look at the world, and thus participate, to change mentalities. “Art can change the way you see things more powerfully than a political speech or an essay,” he says. An opinion, if it is opposed, all the arguments of the world, even the sharpest, will not make you change it. The image, however, touches the sensitivity, the unconscious. Advertisers have understood this: they create images and unconscious identifications to better conquer their audience … This is called an emotional benefit. ”

Strip to enrich

One of Wizen’s first astonishments is the ambivalent look we have on our body, the object of all our attentions in a seeming society, but also the object of dissatisfaction, of complexes … “Today young people have for reference tops models, which not only are beautiful by nature, but whose photos are retouched and embellished. The body, the real one, with its faults, is compared to these perfect, idealized, unreal bodies … Even those who know that these photos are reworked are unconsciously led to take them as a reference. Mirror of this ambivalence in relation to the body: the ambiguity of nudity in our society. “You just have to stand for a quarter of an hour near a newsstand, which exhibits photos of lascivious and seductive women on the cover of porn magazines, to see a veiled woman pass by, concealing her hair, perceived as unacceptable bait . How do we articulate in our world, a pornographic relationship, exhibitionist of nudity and an exacerbated modesty? ”

It is therefore on the true body, shown in its simplest device, that Idan Wizen wanted to work. And this is how the project “a naked anonymous in the living room” was born. This project highlights a third question: what is the basis of attraction. Not the sexual attraction, but the attraction of two beings. Why, do we find charm with such a woman, why this old man seems beautiful to us, why this person seems nice to us? What in his body, in his eyes, captivates us? Because this is the originality of Wizen’s work. He does not photograph nudes, he photographs people. No faces buried in the hair, no heads shown back … The look is there, who says himself, who expresses himself. And which is expressed all the more intensely no doubt that the body is undressed. By revealing the body, deprived of the tinsel that “distorts” it, Wizen seeks the deep reality of the one who is in front of him. It breaks the shell of appearances with which each of us is clothed. Clothing appearances, but also gestures, attitudes, facial expressions… After two hours, two and a half hours, after long discussions by which he sought to approach his model, posed in posture, little by little the right expression emerged, the authentic gesture, free look. “When you’re naked, you can’t act like a comedian,” says the artist. We have to be confident … The person undresses and then is dressed in light. “The people who look at my photos in the exhibitions linger on the faces. They’re never going to look at this as a porn photo. They are captured by expressions. “Expressions that turn out to be natural, smiling, attractive but out of sexual codes (enticing, catchy …).

Ordeal or therapy

And the model in all this? Some photographic artists like to emphasize the benefit of the pictures they offer. By seeing themselves magnified by the lens, the models are finally able to find themselves beautiful, to love themselves, to accept their bodies and their faults. This “phototherapy” would aim to help everyone, assuming the benevolent gaze of the photographer, to adopt this same gaze when they are mirrored in the mirror. “Of course, to take these photos, you need to build trust. Before the shooting, we talk. There is a little psychoanalysis side. People often reveal very intimate secrets to me. They reveal themselves. But I don’t grant these

maintain a therapeutic virtue. I’m not a therapist, ”prefers to admit humbly Wizen. I only see most of my models once and cannot figure out what it has released in them. Some write to me. It seems clear that the passage in front of the lens changed something for them. A bit like when you decide to parachute. Before the jump, we are petrified by anxiety. After the jump, we feel a jubilation. We have risen to the challenge, we are proud of ourselves. My models arrived worried, they come out with a feeling of lightness … Many of them show the photo to their loved ones. They are proud to say: “look, I have overcome my modesty, I have overcome societal pressure and I assume”. ”

Overload to reveal the void

If nudity reveals, Idan Wizen tackles, in parallel, another project, which again, highlights the role of awakening of the artist. To come, the Just buy it series, in reference to a famous brand, will be a reflection on the consumer society, the society of excess, where the overflow of goods stifles life and paralyzes reflection. Excess creates emptiness. “It will be a parodic staging of our society with for example a photo where we see a woman’s arm emerging from a pile of shoes or a dozen women who kill each other for a pump …”

The mystery of the gaze

One of the men photographed said it: the naked body magnifies the look. Is it because one is stripped of one’s clothes that a certain form of modesty leads one to look away from the other’s body to contemplate only his face. The same phenomenon is observed in naturist circles where the simple fact of walking in his simplest device leads practitioners to see in the person that they meet only the eyes. Paradox of nudity: a short-clad figure calls the eye to undress it, a naked body calls on the contrary to meet the gaze of the other to discover its interiority. It’s by the way that we enter Idan Wizen’s site. The first photographs presented show only faces. Faces that express themselves. It is only by visiting the site more before we discover that these faces are a cropping of a photo of a naked on one level …

Photographic project by Idan Wizen, “Who’s that nude in the living room?” shows strangers who have agreed to pose in their simplest camera. Launched in 2009, the project aims to bring together several thousand models of all ages, all sizes and all horizons, in an artistic and committed approach.

By Camille Bordenet

“Undress the world to look at it differently”: this approach has animated the Franco-Israeli photographer Idan Wizen since April 2009. Originally, a simple idea: what if we looked at people as they really are? “The best way I can find to drop the costume figuratively is to drop it literally,” he says.

Thus was born the concept of “who’s that nude in the living room?”. Why in the living room? “The purpose of the works is to be hooked and visible to everyone. What better place than the living room? “. A title which aims to offer an alternative to the framed photos with us, “type of cousin’s wedding, where we are all on our 31, in an agreed pose with a frozen smile”, pleases to explain the photographer of 28 years.

“With this title and these photos, I hope that each purchaser of a work can see the model who has delivered himself 100% as an imaginary member of his family; like the person he wants to confide in, to tell about his life, his successes and his failures. A concept between the imaginary friend 2.0 and the completely naked psychologist at home! ”

A spoiled great aunt and a psychiatrist were therefore exchanged for ordinary men and women who came with the desire to strip themselves. “Aède”, “L’escrimeuse”, “Le rappeur”, “l’Anachorète”, “Le quantique” are among the 384 anonymous who posed between 2009 and today for the five successive series of the project: Genesis , Persévérance, Arles, Obstination et Névrose, the current series.

Each body can become a work of art

To glean these models with “real” bodies, the absence of casting is the golden rule: “It must come from a voluntary approach, I do not want to select professional models. Every body has its place to become a work of art. How then to hear about the project? “By word of mouth or by its visibility on social networks”. Then, the applications are made directly on the site.

The recipe seems to be working since Idan Wizen makes six to eight photo sessions per week, lasting two and a half hours each. Before each shoot, the photographer gives a half-hour interview to the model to find out her motivations, her fears and a bit of her history. “Probably because they are suddenly afraid, many models retract and pose a rabbit to me,” regrets the artist.

Chritophe Colera has a PhD in sociology and is a researcher associated to the laboratory of Cultures et Sociétés en Europe of the University of Strasbourg (CNRS-Uds).

Besides, he graduated from L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris and has a Master in Philosophy. He published different works and academic reviews on nudity, particularly “Nudity, practices and meanings” (Editions du Cygne-2008) which gained fame far beyond the circles of academic research. His work on subjective identity concerns natural déterminations as well as cultural constructions and spans a wide scope including the history of philosophy. See particularly his work “Individuality and subjectivity in Nietszche’s Works” (Editions l’Harmattan-2004

The feeling that the representation of nudity in the public space has become widespread, even commonplace arose longer ago than it seems as it has existed for more than half a century. Nowadays however, it goes with new and sometimes conflicting tendencies as the same people may at the same time feel both willful to “democratize” nudity and concerned about protecting themselves from it.

The “democratization of nudity” can be defined by this propensity–evidenced by the surveys conducted–many people have to show off either part of their nudity or all of it, not only in the private sphere but also, and more and more frequently, in the public space when they strip off to stand up for political causes, humanitarian actions or simply for their jobs. But what is really meant by “democratization of nudity” is that will to put within everybody’s reach the expressive power of nudity without fearing the ridicule or clashing with the academic aesthetic canons. The plastic beauty of nudity was formerly almost exclusively granted to a limited and Young proportion of the fair sex (painters’ models, dancers, movie stars, “pin-up’s”–more rarely to the male sex. Nowadays beyond genders (men, women), age groups and physical types (of all sorts of sizes and measurements), there emerges a claim–widely conveyed by some media, to acknowledge to any individual their own charm and to make it possible for this beauty to be revealed “in all nudity”, stripped off the clothes accused to confine people to artificial roles and postures. A lot could be said on this longing for the « right to nudity » and chiefly for the “right to the beauty of any nudity” as well as on the age-old Western imagination linking truth and stripping.
At the same time there is a paradox in the persistence and even sometimes increase of the feeling of uneasiness in front of nudity, one’s own and often too, others’. There remains in our societies a fear of the (sexual) lust still strongly linked to nudity, the fear of the confusion and violence caused by Eros – from fits of jealousy to rapes, through so many other forms of psychological domination. The Christian taboo of concupiscence has been somehow turned into a « functional » fear of the drawbacks of sexual attraction (intensified by the general hygiene prevailing at a time when virus propagation–from Aids to bird flu-keeps bodies apart from one another.)

Still more subtly, one must remember that the relation to one’s own body is never as clear as the “freest” minds would like us to believe. Our body remains a tool, a sort of extension of our conscience which the latter can look after; a raw material one may hope to modify according to one’s own identity or plans but which remains mostly “unchosen”, mortal, subject to aging and disease, riddled with hereditary characteristics and on which even surgery has only a limited power. One can’t but do with it and if the social standards should invade the public spaces with ideally measured top-models (most of the time considerably touched up thanks to data-processing), the limited power one has on one’s own appearance becomes a cause of inhibition and even guilt as more and more people are inclined to track down the so-called defects of their figure (or of their skin) and conceal them. The weight of such burden is all the heavier since the consumer society puts in the body values once more mental as the care for the image scrutinized in its tiniest detail replaces that of words, style, and eloquence once in the heart of conversation.

And then one mustn’t either neglect this age-old phylogenetic legacy still ill-known to our relation to corporal figures, touch and smells, engraved in our genes and probably still evolving nowadays though in unpredictable directions under the progressive reorientation of our senses within our modern world: this reorientation arouses new shunnings and polarizations especially visual ones (we no longer have so frequently as the hunters-gatherers of yore or even our ancestors of the previous century, the pleasure of smell and natural flavors, effort, contact with animals–apart from our dogs and cats–but our eyes are more and more attracted, among other things, by billboards). This present relation to bodies thus mixes attraction and aversion in a complex way and according to circumstances. So there is a large dark area of physical relations difficult to put in words, which adds to the memories and projections from the childhood, to the optimization imperatives of the time lived through and to the minimization imperatives of the cost as well as the rationalization imperative of actions, all that leading to an appeal to modesty regarded as a protective armor.

From that compost there stem out supports to revived religious speeches (those of monotheisms as well as polytheisms such as today’ s Hinduism) that advocate body concealment as proof of daily self-control and mental open-mindedness to the vertical dimension of transcendence (which often gives a meaning and consistency to difficult psychological and corporal experiences particularly that of uprooting). It also fosters a more unreligious speech about the « respect of others and oneself» by obliterating the flesh.

Young artist Idan Wizen who introduces his works in this book didn’t hesitate to confront himself (and his outstanding talent as a photographer) bravely and boldly with those conflicting aversions and aspirations, which out times cultivate in the relationships between beings. Looking down on the easy photographs of models for whom nudity is merely a “professional” costume, he offers “anonymous” models, as he puts it, the opportunity to pose in their birthday suits and proposes to whomever wishes it to buy this work of art for a relatively moderate price.

It is a considerable challenge as he often turns the sitting into an effort to surpass oneself that may really prove heavy-going. A number of the photographs he displays in this book are conquests, the trophies of the victories won by the amateur models over themselves and the others’ look, which endows them with that human value of theirs. It’s also the mark of an aesthetic triumph to make spring up of the body matter in the rough and the most entirely given to the public, what is the most intimate, what it reflects of the most personal story and sensitiveness of the model–and because those expressions caught in the split second of a snapshot are very often what is most intimate, what is most specific of the individual facing us, they also are what is most universally moving. They are somehow closely akin to what is commonly shared by all the members of our species (a fund that mixes our genetic dispositions and the flood of the experienced interactions that cement a human unity beyond all specific characteristics).

This project of Idan Wizen’s initiated in Paris in 2009 contains an aesthetic power which is obvious when you read the book–a reading that cleverly combines the power of the image and that of the verbal testimony of those unveiled “anonymous” models who can never be treated as simple objects as they re-appropriate their experience through their speech.

Its societal or social potentiality shouldn’t be forgotten. Because through the magic of the lens, each and every one of those who try the experience of stripping when showing themselves as they are, with no other device than the shot, the choice of the scenery and of the pose, suddenly becomes worthy of the central place in their neighbor’s living-room. Here, art assumes at its highest its function of the daily transubstantiation somewhat like Courbet’s brush at the time of the Angelus. And if through this process, the picture of the average man’s body becomes for each of us likely to replace the Venus of Milo’s or the Apollo of the Belvedere’s, there’s no doubt that the works of this young artist could very well not only contribute to a generalized questioning of the academic canons in society (as it has already developed for a long time in the artistic avant-garde) but could also open up the way to new forms of relations to oneself and others that might even bring about a new social link. Behaving with others as if they were works of art should in fact logically enable people to go further than Kant’s “categorical imperatives” (the moral rule) that imposed always to consider man as an end and never as a means.

The nude rediscovery during the Renaissance in Europe may have contributed to the propagation of humanism… with all the social and political transformations it may have involved… Who knows if Idan Wizen’s gesture is not relatively speaking, mutatis mutandis a medium for similar phenomena? Unless it deals, however appealing those photos may be, only with fragmentary pictures, representations “among others”, all the others which, in the collective cultural background, contradict them and which they couldn’t outclass…

The reader is the one to judge and decide!