Since, I have begun to work with AXIS - a dance company made up of disabled and non-disabled dancers – this project has developed into an exploration of the beauty in bodily movement and a celebration of all types of bodies. I am just starting work on this project and my ideas will develop over time as I continue to explore AXIS throughout rehearsal, performance and educational workshops.
Here is the basis of what this project was about, originally: The Modern Venus Project (MVP), is an investigation of female body image and self-conception of beauty in the face of chronic illness and disability. This project is a contemporary reflection on how young women (ages 18 – 35) are portrayed in visual pop cultural media in the United States and the challenges chronically ill and disabled women face when trying to fit into our society’s prescribed conceptions of beauty. The MVP aims to be a social investigation into how women come to terms with their own sense of beauty, body image and identity; at a time in their lives where women are expected to be at their most beautiful yet are struggling with bodily disruption and disfigurement. Additionally, this project will serve as a transformative participatory photographic project that helps women to re-envision themselves as beautiful by performing and reconstructing a new definition of beauty on camera.
My last major photography project, “Envisioning Normality,” was a yearlong ethnographic and collaborative photography project looking at how youth with serious illnesses and disabilities try to maintain a sense of normality in their lives. My intention is to use the MVP as a continued exploration of body image and identity in a new context, expanding on my previous work and aiming to engage larger audiences. Due to the visual primacy of our culture – which is exacerbated by the modern media, advertising and the beauty industry – much of our reality is created by what we see around us. These arenas are starting to make headway with accepting different body types and cultures as models of beauty, but there is still much work to be done in creating a desirable “visual role” for the disabled and chronically ill in society.