NoBody’s Perfect, 2007
Selected for the National Portrait Gallery Photography Prize, 2007
A series of 12 portraits created in collaboration between Ania Dabrowska and Niko von Glasow during the making of his documentary feature film of the same title. The project is about thalidomide survivors from Northern Ireland, UK, and Germany. Thalidomide affected thousands of babies born in the 1960s, causing severe physical deformities. The subjects of the portraits (including Niko von Glasow) strip naked confronting the viewer and their own demons in the process.
Drawing on Caravaggio, the work deploys 17th century stylistic devices of density, lighting and a use of symbolism. Whilst aesthetically opulent, the portraits’ content is minimal, focusing on full length naked models looking directly at the viewer, posed centrally against a black velvet backdrop, with objects, people, or animals representing sources of their inner power and strength. The film is a confrontational, emotionally charged and humorous story of the characters’ lives (1st Prize, Berlin Film Festival, 2007). The photographic series, the making of which is included in the film, celebrates them as individuals raising questions about body politics, notions of beauty and the current status of portraiture within contemporary photography.
The work was exhibited as live-size portraits installation in Roncalliplatz, Cologne, and other cities across Germany (2007).