Seeing yourself in the Beauty and the Decay – By Ricky Davis
Back in 2013, I began a series which I titled Beauty in the Decay. I had been inspired by the work of the amazing Karen Jerzyk who goes into abandoned buildings and shoots nude models. The work is mind blowing and very powerful. Now I don’t shoot nude models, the most that I shoot is implied, but I really liked the idea of doing a series that pits beauty in the midst of decay, from my perspective. I feel that this can open up a lot of questions. What is beauty, really what is decay?
I shot two photos for the series in 2013, and none in 2014. I got a little off track. Recently I decided I wanted to began it again and had the opportunity to work with the amazing Liz Price for a new image to add into it.
A few weeks ago I posted the image above on Facebook and Instagram and I asked the question of what people feel, or what are their thoughts regarding what’s happening in the photo. I held my own opinion back until now. I wanted to share a few of the responses that I received about this photo.
“She feels alone in a society that says her body doesn’t fit the standards for beautiful.” Amanda C.
“Longing for her dreams, hope that’s lost” Carol Ann M.
“She’s feeling embarrassed or shunned. Lack of confidence, yearning to be accepted.” Kellie H.
“I see someone who has hit rock bottom, and this is the moment she decides to take her life back!
I feel like her thoughts are, “screw the world! Wait until they see what I have coming for them!” (In a positive sense)
For me, it seems like a moment of transformation!” Trevor L.
“Remembering what once was…” Christy G.
” I see someone reflecting waiting for a change who is to know if it is good or bad” Kennedy G.
“Loneliness looking out into the darkness for a single ray of light.” Gregory A.
Those were responses on Facebook, here’s some of what people on Instagram had to say.
“A very foreboding, dark, & sinister look. Emotionally I’m intrigued on what the subject sees outside the window.” VIntageterrance
“I feel sad. I feel like she got left at the alter and she is soo misrable she still has on her wedding crenlen slip, and is staring outside waiting for her groom to show up…..” Mrsham1993
“To me it feels forlorn…like she’s waiting on someone who never came” DarthCrowe
As I started reading the comments as they were being posted, the thought resonated with me, especially as I knew a few of the people commenting, with things that were going on in their lives. They weren’t necessarily just viewing Liz as a model in some far off photograph, some were seeing themselves in her place. My idea was justified a few minutes later when Carol Ann commented ” You know, after reading everyone’s response, I think that our critique is how we actually feel unsure emoticon or maybe it’s just me.”
So what is the purpose of art? Sometimes I think it’s helpful for us to grow and to sort through things that we are dealing with when we can step out of ourselves and see it in third person. Much the way that some were able to step into Liz’s position and relate.
For me, this photograph is a symbol of hope and beauty. Yes, the room is trashed, and it’s dark and bleak. Yes, she’s not airbrushed, liquified, and the like. It’s gritty and the location doesn’t seem too inviting. The curtains to the window are drawn, except for where she’s holding them apart. She’s not looking behind her at the disheveled mess that’s in the past, but she’s looking forward through the window into what’s to come. Too often we focus on the distractions around us instead of looking ahead. We don’t know what’s to come, but we already know what’s behind us. That’s what it makes me feel anyway.
I hope that you like the image and will stay tuned for more.
If you’d like to work with me, firstname.lastname@example.org