Tales of Beauty

It is no secret that beauty, especially where the female body is concerned, changes. Or to be more specific, the criteria by which physical beauty is appraised changes. Physical beauty is anything but stable, and what is more, it is a highly mediated experience.
This new series of photos, entitled Tales of Beauty, by Marco Guerra and Yasmina Alaoui, addresses just these questions of beauty and mediation, and more. Combining their backgrounds and experience in fashion photography and contemporary art, the duo decided to confront these issues in the uncommon form of exceptionally plump women. This is not their first collaboration, they have been working together for the past few years, in a contrapuntal way. But this is the first body of work upon which they have collaborated, both conceptually and formally, from start to finish. Initially working with nothing more than a rolleiflex and northern light, they invited four corpulent beauties to pose nude for them. Guided in a large part by Alaoui’s instinct for sculptural volume and Guerra’s adulation of the female form, the series was shot with a dynamism that passes from voluptuous landscapes of physical abstraction to more traditional modernist nudes. At times, a string of rotund, fleshy folds becomes impossible to read as a human body (which gives itself away via a stray nipple), while a frontal, three-quarter shot of a full-figured body with a hip-cocked and shoulder-dropped becomes an unlikely sculptural counterfeit in classical contraposto.