Richard Ansett

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From series, Guy © Richard Ansett

FAT

GOLD AWARD – Prix de la Photographie , 2011

Kassel FotoBook Festival Dummy Awards 2014/15

In the early years of the 21st century there was a de-construction of the historic boundaries that defined the old national stereotype in the UK but for all the benefits of this new found freedom, there were consequences and victims that still resonate today. There is an inevitable polluted bi-product that emerges from setting minds free; inevitable consequences of a relatively free and democratic society.

The West’s self-confidence in capitalist individualism as the shining example for others is reliant on an outward looking and patronising relativism of other systems. Part of the maintenance of this act of hubris is an avoidance of self-analysis. It is a challenge to turn that objectified gaze back on ourselves. Perhaps the suffering of other parts of the world seems unimaginable compared to the amazing lives we are being asked to believe we have in the West and self critique seems un-empathic. Do we have the right to feel depressed or suicidal or is this an inevitable consequence of consumerism? I argue that pain is not a relative construct; that suffering of the individual is not lessened by the knowledge of the agony of another and further; problems of other worlds should not be a distraction from the fractures which are unique to our own society.

Our emotional states are inevitably on show and we are shaped by them. We all in turn contribute to the shaping of the social political landscape. We mostly share a commonality of experience but it is how we deal with this, especially moments of crisis that form our evolving personalities. In many of us the signs are complex and partial; we learn ways to disguise our vulnerability. These hiding strategies contribute to our image identity but for some of us the camouflage is dramatically visible.

The subjects in ‘FAT’ are metaphorical objects, the discarded by-products of a progressive society. The images themselves are a record of a unique moment in time when we were left to fend for ourselves in the new forming era of moral relativism and a transfer of responsibility from the state to the individual..

This work is an interpretation of this new emotional shape as a demonised allegory seen through an objectivist lens. But I consider these subjects to exist as a part of ourselves, they are, in the moment of capture, physical representations of our own emotional possibility not intended as documentary or Arbus-esq freak show but as an extended metaphor and privileged insight into a human being’s most intimate vulnerability.

These are portraits of subject’s collaborating with the artist; portraiture in its purist definition. They are captured moments before bariatric surgeries that offer the hope of changing their lives. This is a documentation of the last time that they hope to live within this physical body and go someway to explain how the subject’s are so unashamed in exposing themselves to the camera. They are the before without the after.

Monograph Dummy – designer Boris Kajmak.