Intimate Lives

The structure of intimate photography is one of which borrows the concept of domestic photography and personal family photos, taking into account relationships and social aspirations for presentation to the public, showing the intimate journey of emotions experienced in one’s life. However, there has been controversy to how far this concept of art can go before it isn’t considered “art”. This would be due to the fact that the subject matter contains a lot of back-story and deep meanings, therefore with just the image being presented, the outcome may be weak.


Tracy Emin, a consummate storyteller, engages the viewer with her candid exploration of universal emotions. She is well known for her intimacy and personal space, which is incorporated well into when of her most famous and controversial projects, “My Bed 1998 mattress, linens, pillows, objects”. This piece of work produced by Emin – containing every personal detail from cigarette butts and alcohol bottles, to dirty tights and finishes newspapers -became a very controversial piece. “My Bed” even reached the news, discussing whether or not Emin’s piece was considered art or whether it was an effortless piece, showing her own messy room in a crude, disgusting manner. In y opinion, I would consider “My Bed” to be a work of art, showing intimate art at its best. Emin had placed sketchbooks all around the gallery, leading up to her art piece, and by the time you had reached the bed, you knew her whole life. Yes it’s dirty and uncomfortable to some people, but to me, the art piece seems “real” nothing is sugar coated, she is presenting her life how it truly is, and not brushing the dirt under the bed like most houses would do, to present their supposed perfect life. Instead, you get Tracy Emin’s cathartic and realistic approach, as the Saatchi Gallery said, “Through poetry of her honest retelling of unique and intimate life events, Emin establishes a generous dialogue between the viewer and the artist.”(Gallery, 2014)

Another example of an intimate photographer would be Sophie Calle. A French conceptual artist who focuses on identity, intimacy and the vulnerability of people, with a very detective/stalker ability when taking her photographs; most of her subjects appear to be unaware they are being photographed, and Calle has also been known to walk into facilitated hotel rooms whilst the occupants have left the building. Of course, even to me this could seem out of order and slightly creepy, it’s very easy to see how people would disagree with her practice. On the other hand, I can understand Calle’s art and what she is accomplishing; Intimacy at its best. Her ability to catch people when they don’t feel they have to make an impression in front of a camera or a crowd, or capturing their personal, private belongings left in their bedroom results in her capturing people’s true life, where they are themselves and humanity is not sugar-coated, resulting in truly beautiful meanings behind the madness. although this photograph be Calle is not one of her “stalker-esque” inspired images, I chose this project due to the fact it represents the realism in our humanity. The piece is called “Take Care of Yourself”. after her partner dumped her via email, she turned the message into an art project in order to deal with the heartbreak. She sent the image to a range of photographers and got them to express the grammar in the email she had received, the result was beautiful, with such an array of different interpretations, it felt collectively honest, personal, and intimate, a true masterpiece.


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