Body Landscapes

Stephanie De Leng
Blackburne House, Blackburne Place

Reviewed by Charles McIntyre

Stephanie De Leng's Body Landscapes exhibition held at Blackburne house is already causing some minor controversy.

The photographs, which are being displayed in a hall which doubles as a conference room, focus, unsurprisingly and unreservedly, on the human body. Some of the more explicit photographs have recently been temporarily taken down as to not offend any conference goers. With some photos showing male genitalia and female breasts, this is perhaps understandable. And yet, it is exactly this kind of societal awkwardness that Leng is trying to expose.

Each of the stunning images is supported with a short text provided by its subject, describing their selected body feature and its importance to them. Commonly these features are ones that disturb the viewer and distress the subject, from stretch marks to severe scarring, moles and warts to gargantuan bellies. Leng's presentation throughout the exhibition is truly spectacular. Styles range from soft close-ups to etched and embossed coloured renditions. These varying styles always maintain a sense of objective reality; being that these bodily forms are nothing more than a physical state with no other agenda or 'meaning'.

The anonymity of the exhibition's subjects and Leng's unflinching execution give every scar an echo of resonant feeling that is imposed on the viewer, exploiting the notion that we can all relate to each other's bodies and disfigurements to a certain degree. By bringing our perception of the human form to this level - beyond embarrassment or disgust - Leng manages to reinstate intrigue and beauty into what has become a cynical and intolerant approach to the human body.

A stunning and fascinating exhibition, Leng's Body Landscapes should be savoured while it can.

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