|NUDES > THE STORIES PROJECT > ARTIST STATEMENT|
When you stand naked in front of a stranger's camera, you put yourself in a vulnerable position. Laying yourself bare like this quite often triggers intense emotions of long repressed often traumatic experiences.
I ask the young women in my pictures -I dislike the word "models"- to reveal in front of my camera how they feel or stand in life. I invite them to show a hidden part of themselves, to go beyond the happy façade or the fake sexual availability you often find in "babe photography".
From my first sessions in the early 90s on, several girls have shared touching stories with me, and I promised myself to use -with their approval of course!- their stories later on in a project which goes beyond the individual well-being of the people involved.
I didn't write about pain, disrespect nor handicap in my early books, keeping the girls with a story beautiful between the happy ones. But the titles 'The fragile touch' and 'Allegro sensibile' and an often introvert image choice subtly indicate a second layer.
Klara was the first girl to write about her story, 'Instant de mort', a moment of death. Our project was published in 2007, and the reactions were enormous. Sharing her story was not only a major step for Klara, but apparently gave courage to many other victims of abuse. During lectures all over Europe, people were struck with silence, when they first saw her images. Women as well as men often expressed their appreciation in delicate words. They also encouraged me to continue doing this kind of work.
That is why I decided to dedicate a significant part of my time to sessions with a "human value", and called it my "Stories" project.
I hope to continue recording and sharing stories of Klara, Jessie and so many others. Let you be the respectful audience they have been crying for. Let their stories enhance awareness and empathy in our world.
You'll discover a variety of stories, some bright and optimistic, or funny, others quiet and painful.
Just as life is.
Pascal Baetens, October 2012.