Heavy in White
Text JF. Pierets Artwork Lynn Bianchi
Lynn Bianchi is a New York City-based fine art photographer and multi-media artist who has shown work in over thirty solo exhibitions and in museums worldwide. Her photographic art has been featured in over forty publications. Bianchi’s Heavy in White series was inspired by body-consciousness, and the desire to create a fantasy world where women could break free of self-criticism. Small and heavy women celebrate nude while eating and dressing, existing in the moment, challenging societal ideals on weight, beauty and sexuality. The Heavy in White women are not trying to impress or perform. They play dress-up and eat with relish, celebrating their sexuality without trying to be something other than what they are.
Your series ‘Heavy in White’ is right up our alley regarding diversity and a different view on beauty. How did you come up with the idea?
One time, I went to a Whitney biennial exhibition and I saw lots of tables covered with what looked like garbage. They said it was art. Then I went to MoMA. I saw the Impressionist paintings: Monet, Cézanne,… Coincidentally, tables were involved again: beautiful still-life paintings, gorgeous table settings in the impressionist paintings. I went from garbage to beautiful fruits and flowers. After the Whitney exhibits I was very much impressed by the clash of opposites. I thought to myself: I can do that. But what is it that I Iike? I like white. I also could use tables. So tables led to food, food led to body image. Then I wanted a heavy model. And that’s how it started.
Why did you choose to put them in a neoclassic setting?
I guess I’m a neoclassicist inside. One isn’t always in charge of what comes out of ones mind.
Which artist inspires you?
No artist in particular. I’m inspired by my own life experience and by life itself.
How about the models? Were they as positively body-conscious as you wished them to be?
Not necessarily. Being a woman myself, I know that most of us are not satisfied with our bodies, no matter how close to – according to today’s standards – perfection we are. In any case, the photo sessions took away a great deal of the self-consciousness that my models were feeling towards their bodies. For example; I photographed one woman who was bulimic. After our photo sessions, she was able to overcome her bulimia. The sessions were like facing one’s worst fears. Nobody felt self-conscious because the idea of any specific individual or identity was of so little importance compared to the task at hand. The models did not actually lose their identity, however, but rather their sense of ‘self’ was allowed to submerge into the collective. Each model became an important part of the bigger pictures. The photographs weren’t about one individual but spoke of something deep inside each one of them.
‘I want people to see the joy of living, in and of itself. I’m showing them one of their fears, for example the fear of being too fat. But there is a sense of commonality in the nudity and once the differences are exposed, they are more beautiful than scary.’
How important is diversity in your work?
I love diversity. It’s never boring. It’s life.
It looks like all those women have a lot of fun. Was it a pleasure to shoot them?
Absolutely! The models weren’t self-conscious. Quite the opposite. They were given one task; to eat. And while doing that, they forgot to be in control. They became a monumental sculpture. An exchange of beauty occurred. It was a harmony of shapes and forms. Then came the acceptance of the differences between all of us. It was the best fun.
Why did you want them to eat?
Because that’s what we do every day; we eat and we suffer, we don’t eat and we suffer. You want to eat but you don’t want it to show. But at the core, it is a pleasure to eat. It is a very social thing, too. People get together to eat and have a good time.
Your pictures are very physical. How do you accomplish that feeling?
I just show what’s in front of me. And again; life is very physical.
What do you want your spectators to see?
I want people to see the joy of living, in and of itself. I’m showing them one of their fears, for example the fear of being too fat. But there is a sense of commonality in the nudity and once the differences are exposed, they are more beautiful than scary.
Are you, yourself, free from self-criticism?
I have to say with laughter: no! Absolutely not!
How do you define beauty?
From inside out. Beauty is something that shines through. Physical beauty is pretty to look at, but it disappears quickly if there is nothing much to support it. Beauty is the joy of living.
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