In photography, much like other mediums, the nude body has been an eternal muse, acting as the site for creativity and the performance of human experience.
While depictions of beauty and perfection have traditionally been more widely accepted (especially in our age of preened social media accounts), there is something to be said about strange bodies—the passionate, odd, grotesque, and sometimes clownish bodies that contort, bend, pose, and hide in front of the camera. By showing us different angles and secret moments, strange bodies reflect the deep quality of our world; they tell stories of sensuality in horror and confidence in vulnerability. They give us a fuller answer of what it means to be walking around on the planet in a vessel made of flesh and physics. They show us an authentic yet rarely-seen aspect of the soul.
Featured here are 10 photographers who show us this side of the body: the strange body. In doing so, they relieve the weight of stigma; they reveal darkness and private struggle, as well as playfulness and sexuality. And by representing the body in alternative ways, their images seize the imagination, pushing back against repressive norms to express a more authentic range of humanity.
Above: Between a rock and a hard place: Ben Zack’s “Symbiotic” series features nude models interacting with natural and urban landscapes.