Bare honesty.

At first glance, Frank Cordelle may seem like just another male artist who loves capturing images of nude women. But see his photos and read the testimonials of the women he photographs—and the responses from women who see them—and you'll get the sense his work actually is about loving women, not creating some one-dimensional, sexualized caricature. In The Century Project, Cordelle has been photographing women from birth to age 100. Average women, exceptional women, fat, wrinkly, beautiful, innocent, scarred women.

He says the project is about "art being able to bridge educational and therapeutic gaps, and perhaps most importantly, to be able to stimulate thought and discussion about subjects that are often taboo in our society: namely nudity and sexuality, violence, health issues, aging, our attitudes toward women in general, and their portrayal in the media in particular." The therapy part is about women who've survived disease or violence or crippling self-doubt, yet find themselves bared in front of his camera in an act some of the women describe as liberating.

The excelllent daily videoblog Minnesota Stories, did a piece on St. Paul filmmaker Elizabeth Hoodecheck who is working on a documentary inspired by the project, called Bare Honesty, and my favorite part of it is when one 21-year old woman looks at a photo of a nude women, age 44, and says, "I see me.. . She has this rage and self-hate inside. The same thing I feel: the binging and the purging."

But not all the images are about healing. As one reviewer described in 1995:
There’s 82 year-old Sibby, smiling and walking in the rain outside her Francestown home, dressed only in a brightly colored umbrella.

"You’d think an older generation of women would feel more of a sense of shame," Sibby says. "But I felt perfectly at ease - we had a very good time."

1 comment:

Dr. Paul Rapoport said...

The Century Project is one of the most remarkable projects I have come across in my 43 years in the arts. It has the power to radically change the way we think about women, and hence about ourselves, regardless of our sex or gender.

I am honored to be the publisher of Frank Cordelle's book, Bodies and Souls: The Century Project, which is due out in late October 2006. Further information may be found via The Century Project's website.