Monday, November 13, 2006

The Century Project

The Century Project gathers photographs of women -- in the nude -- from ages birth to 94. There are more photos than those on the site, but the ones on the site are worth looking at.

Each of the photos carries a statement by the subject, which range from mundane to profound in their impact.

I'm sure someone is going to yell, "Child porn! Child porn!" but none of the photos anywhere in the collection come across as sexual to me. They are candid photos of real females throughout the lifespan.

Here is some of the mission statement of the photographer:
Century is a chronological series of nude photographic portraits of women from the moment of birth through one hundred years of age.

While the biological continuum is an important part of the project and provides a vital framework for other issues, this is much more than a mere developmental chronicle.

Many of the photographs, for example, are accompanied by personal statements written by the participants themselves. These are often highly personal and intensely moving. The combination of words and pictures has proven to be very powerful based on all public and media responses to exhibitions and publications to date.

The subjects portrayed are, quite simply, real-life people. They are not stars or models. They span all ages, body types, and have a rich variety of experiences to draw upon and to share. CENTURY is about real women in real bodies, not the caricatures in the worlds of media and advertising.

Here is one of the women and her statement.

Lumina, 54

"When Frank showed me his portfolio of Century shots, I was very aware of the respect and caring for women which was so much a part of each photograph. I was struck by the feeling that, somehow, posing for him would be a healing and freeing experience for me. At this point in my life I no longer believe in coincidence and the feeling was strong that I was being offered an opportunity that I would regret turning my back on... this from a woman who has for years tried to avoid being photographed at all costs.

I walked into Frank's studio feeling almost completely divorced from my body. I'd come a long way in the past year toward making my peace with that attitude - self protective, in part, after a violent rape a little over a year ago that put me in the hospital for eight days, severely injured internally as well as emotionally. The
physical injuries healed and I dealt, in one way, with the emotional pain and confusion by cutting my "self" off from my body... I tried to believe that my body was somehow apart from "me" - my soul, spirit, inner self. Intellectually, of course, I knew this was ridiculous, but I chose to see my body through bruised emotions - not my mind's eye.

Another contributor to this detachment was the fact that I had had breast implants over 25 years ago. I had accepted my then husband's verdict that my breasts were no longer as firm and attractive as they had been when we were married. For all those years I had never come to terms with this, so, for me to stand naked facing the camera - no props, no poses - just me - was painful at first. A deep sadness, along with some anger, well up in me over what had been done, what I had allowed to be done to myself over the years and I wasn't able to hold back the tears. I found, though, that by the end of the session I was able to acknowledge to myself the hurts and disappointments I've suffered in the past, but no longer feel defeated or separated by them. I'm strong in the knowledge that these - while all a part of who I am today - will no longer hold power over me.

I feel as if I've walked through a wall which I never have to step back behind again - a joyous feeling and one for which I am truly grateful."

Check out the rest of the images.

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