Wanda Michalak “Men About” 22.01-20.02.2000January 22, 2000 9:45 pm
BODY ART. It is a term that already has gained some tradition in art and a phenomenon that many artists are still interested in. Art of performance*, video, experimental film – all these areas are particularily filled with realisations concerning human body. Photography is no exception here. There are many artists that went beyond classic understanding of nude photography long ago. They went further on creating photographic stagings with their distinct scenarios, composition, theoretical and philosophical assumptions. The stagings in which human body plays prominent role and is considered to be a basic element upon which a content and meaning of individual photographic series are being built.
This is also the case of the most recent series of Wanda Michalak called “Men About”. Dozen or so photographs of different sizes present naked men not only for the sake of the beauty of their young bare bodies. They are submitted to certain compositional interventions in order to create some iconic structures – kind of tableaux vivantes in which water, soap or symbolic objects like woodden wheel or metal sword are being used. But most of them are just posed nudes with dominating role of light which underscores materiality and physicality of human body. It applies equally to the figures standing still and to those photographed while making expressive and violent gestures.
The questions which perhaps are being asked by the artist may refer to the way in which we perceive these nudes – as a peculiar manifestation of the human beauty that lasts forever in our consciousness or as an attractive staging measure achieving by skillful use of chiaroscuro and perfection of the artist’s craft.
A lack of unequivocal answer to this questions causes that the photographic works of Wanda Michalak although being apparently easy to perceive, do possess some widened margin of interpretation, which further strenghtens their impact.
Marek Grygiel ( 2000)Wanda Michalak