A Chinese photographer moves to the U.S. Here, he discovers bodies. Bodies as social places. Bodies as identifiers, as the places of definition. How does the place one belongs to relate to the body one owns (isn't this a beautiful expression? to own a body...)?
Shen Wei's series Almost Naked is a guided tour of identity caught in body. Or of the body as caught up in identity. Whichever way you put it, there is a feeling of self, that is, that the pictures are not of the person's body, but of a person as she reveals/hides herself. There is a certain foreigner's curiosity of how the others deal with who they are, what they are, and what they can present to someone else. This curiosity, and the way the subjects deal with it, is one of the most delightful aspects of Wei's work.
There is sometimes a feeling of a dangerous zone, of a fragile state that almost makes one look away, as if there was something indecent about showing oneself. As if it were an exposition and not a capturing of something. Then again, curiosity is stronger and I dare you not to look at all the pictures with great attention. The attraction of intimacy, combined with a gentle sense of humor, is right on the spot. Shen Wei says:
Once I achieve the trust of the model, I can feel their energy and their desire to be seen and be explored but at the same time still reserve some for themselves. It is in those Almost Naked moments that my subjects are the most exquisite, when things occur, and what generally is not displayed initially in public is exposed. I emotionally and physically strip the sitters when the trust and friendship is built between us. The key to building that trust and friendship is to make them feel at ease with conversation and personalized emotion contact. It can sometimes be psychological, sometimes more sensual, sometimes more or less sincere, depending upon the personality of the sitters and the intimate level of the environment. It is the art of psychology within making art.
None of the people smile.
I found this through the placebokatz blog, which to my great joy (as always when that happens) has put a link to this humble page.