Beauty can be found in the strangest of places.
One of my favourite photographers in Joel-Peter Witkin. Witkin is kind of Marnite-like, and it takes a person to look past the obvious to appreciate his photographs.
Some critics will call him one of the greatest photographers of all time, while others will say that his pictures are vile and attention-seeking, using the extreme to shock. To some extent he does do that, but it’s that effect that gives his pictures such depth: that a picture can cause the viewer to recoil, but then find beauty.
Whatever the reason, Witkin’s strives to find beauty where beauty is not normally regarded. He builds his sets around hermaphrodites, dwarves, cripples, Siamese twins and amputees, all of which function as catalysts.
Witkin is always said to misuse the handicapped to create a spectacle and it is this that’s most targeted by his critics. However Jackie Tellalian who was herself confined to a wheelchair and worked with Witkin says “I’ve had many people say: “Didn’t you feel exploited by that?” and I always say no, because fist of all he never made me feel as though he was using my disability as a sensationalist aspect in the picture”. (Photo Icons, Hans-Michael Koetzle).
Here are a few other striking photographs: