Stephanie De Leng
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
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.