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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

EPF 2012 Finalist

 

Laia Abril

II Chapter on Eating Disorders ‘THINSPIRATION’

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The Pro Ana community has turned anorexia (Ana) into its dogma. This illness has even been embodied by the members of this group; they venerate it as the one giving meaning to their totalitarian ‘life style’. It’s a virtual reality where they state their commandments, share motivating tricks and exchange hundreds of images of thin models via their blogs. They have created ‘thinspiration’, a new visual language – obsessively consumed to keep on wrestling with the scales day after day.

Looking at their delusions in greater detail, I find out a new symptom in their behavior. Interacting with their own cameras in a competition in which they portray their achievements in the form of bony clavicles or flat bellies, the pro Ana have made thinspiration evolve.

I decide to look for the answer by re-taking their self-portraits with the intention of establishing a conversation between their camera and mine. I shut myself up in a dark room as if it were a model session, placing my tripod in front of the computer in such a way that, when you look through the lens, it’s only me and them. I photograph them in their rooms, in their bathrooms. They pose provocatively, narcissistically.

Pro-anorexis consume in a wicked game between admiration and repulsion: the pro-bones, where the protagonists are anorexic and are at an extreme stage of the illness. The images that I took from then on disassociate themselves from the character to turn into abstract body landscapes at the gates of the abyss. They are the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity.

‘Thinspiration’ is the second chapter of a long-term project about Eating Disorders I started almost two years ago. Furthermore it is an introspective journey, based in my personal experience, through the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing new risk factors within the disease: the social networks and photography.

 

Bio

Laia Abril (Barcelona, 1986) is a documentary photographer and journalist.
Her work has been exhibited and appraised in Italy, Spain, Bosnia, Germany, London and New York on events like NY FotoFestival or the 3rd Lumix Festival. Her editorial work has been published in different international magazines such as D Repubblica, The Sunday Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, FT Magazine or COLORS Magazine, where she has been a member of the editorial staff since 2009, when she enrolled at the Fabrica artists residency – the Benetton research centre in Italy.

In 2010 she joined the agency Reportage by Getty as an emerging talent after being finalist at the Ian Parry Award in 2009/10. Most recently she was selected for the Plat(t)form Winterthur FotoMuseum and nominated at the Joop Swart Masterclass.

She is currently working as a staff photographer, blogger and Associate Picture Editor for COLORS combining her freelance career and keeping developing her personal project.

 

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Pham Minh Trieu and his Daughter, Pham Thi Ngoc Vietnam 2010

David Dare Parker (b. 1958, Australia) was one of the original co-founders of Reportage and was a Director of FotoFreo Photographic Festival (Australia). His photographs have been  published in: Le Monde, Stern, L’Express, Focus, Australian Geographic, The Bulletin, The New York Times, Fortune and Time Australia. David’s recent projects include coverage of East Timor’s struggle to gain independence and Indonesia’s first steps towards democracy. In January 2002 he was asked to co-ordinate a safety awareness course for Afghan Journalists in Peshawar, Pakistan for the International Federation of Journalists.  David is a  Walkley Award winning photographer and an ambassador for Nikon Australia. He is represented by SOUTH in Australia and On Asia Images in Asia.

About the Photograph:

It was moving to watch the affection between Pham Minh Trieu and his daughter, Pham Thi Ngoc Minh, 33 years old. This quietly spoken man had been in the Army from 1950 till 1975 and was a medic during the Vietnam War. He remembers hiding in underground tunnels during US Air Force bombing raids. He was based in Baria, Vung Tau, when dioxin was dropped on the area and has strong memories of leaves falling off plants, trees dying and eating fruit from dioxin-affected regrowth. Returning to Ben Tre Provence he married and had a daughter. He blames her defects on dioxin poisoning, a direct result of his exposure during the War. Testing for dioxin in the body is expensive, at around $1,500 per test it is cost prohibitive to most Vietnamese families. Without such tests, there can be no conclusive evidence dioxin was the cause of the defects, offering little chance for compensation, or help, outside of that provided by the Vietnamese Government.”

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