Joel-Peter Witkin

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edited by Enrico Stefanelli

in collaboration with Badouin Lebon Gallery, Paris

Immoral, obscene, perverted, grotesque, profane… Are the adjectives that politically correct people assign to the work of Joel-Peter Witkin. Yes, his works are of unimaginable visual violence, built in the studio with the expertise of a surgeon (and the reference to the scalpel is not by chance).
His subjects are strong and never invented and are the people that Heaven has punished with incredibly cruel deformities. Behind his search in the drawers of the Morgue, which store the poor remains of unknown people, to make them privileged subjects of his works, is the will to give back their existence beyond the period of time that is given to each one. Witkin redeems these tortured and repulsive bodies, these fragments, making them the protagonists of life. A life that invents elaborate stagings in order to restore their dignity, that society will never accept.
Thinking back to those images, Witkin says: “In the end, why do I do these works? I did it for the glory of God and to inflame the souls of man. This is what I live for.” Of course, nobody else before him has ever created similar images in photography, ripping through the heavy curtain of tradition.

(from a text by Enrico Stefanelli)


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