Franziska Schmidt . Berlin - Kunst Foto Historikerin, Germanistin
Amin El Dib - Body and Soul, English
Amin El Dib, Tableau "Body and Soul“, 2014-2018
Evoked distress—scars and burn marks on the bare skin of arms and legs, indications of cuts and self-inflicted burns. We see a body with markings, wounds implying reflections of inner states of being, a distorting of the self and manifested in superficial metaphors and abstracted into symbolism. It is a female body, whose anonymization, like a lost existence, prevents connecting it to a face.
The images are an acknowledgement, signifying radical exposure and visualization in the same instant. The photographer’s eye meticulously and relentlessly captures all details, deliberately focusing the camera on the essential. Concealed in the enlargement, in concentrating on the (skin’s) surface, is a desire to reveal in order to access what might lie behind it.
With his series Body and Soul, Amin El Dib undertakes a photographic quest for vestiges of psychic inscriptions. The depicting of “actual and existential perils,” of wounds and transitoriness are defining elements in his work. The seven-part tableau, broken up into multiple image elements, alternates between balance and imbalance—expressly implied and arranged as such—, a perpetual balancing that provides few places for the eye to rest and allows viewers to enter various levels. The photographs read as if the photographer and the model are both feeling one another out, like a provoking and flirting, or revealing but also concealing. Also apparent in the act of perceiving and presenting oneself before the camera is the yearning and longing for acceptance, touching, being touched, just like the hand in the image that softly seeks to hold one’s own body. El Dib explores incessantly, gently, and sensitively these pictorial touches, so that we as viewers also experience them, in the frankness of the portrayal, in a real and tangible way.
El Dib’s photographic images, in their own conciseness and intensity, are defined by an urgency capable of reproducing surface and skin color with such realism it makes it painful to observe. Body scars are “burned” into the physical as well as psychic presence—into the image, the eye, and memory. In the reflecting of actualities, deceptions are avoided and wounds are made visible and openly depicted. Not only does photography manifest what is, but to some extent also implies what lies underneath. Here scars can tell us both about ruptures in existence and about healing. They are the skin-based transmissions of an inner to an exterior state of being, which one cannot escape through the inevitability of observation.
Franziska Schmidt, 2018