Michael J Berkowitz
personal issues of body image, desirability, beauty and sexuality
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USA (États-Unis) 

For most of my adult life, I was a sculptor and performance artist creating works around religious themes, in particular the power and importance of ritual in our lives. About seven years ago, inspired by a book of erotic photos from the 1800’s, I began to create vignettes in my studio and photograph women in them. I quickly fell in love with the images and the process and began to work in photography exclusively. I also put up a website of my work in order to get some exposure and feedback. At first, my only wish was to create a beautiful image. As more and more women approached me wanting to pose, I began to focus more on the models, their interaction with me and the camera, and their desire to play a role and expose themselves. Many of them expressed to me how powerfully it affected them to pose, how liberating and empowering it was. Most of the models who pose for me are educated young women, many who’ve engaged in various kinds of sex work; they are go-go dancers and strippers, dominatrixes, escorts, and tantric masseuses. They are “testing the conceptual and experiential boundaries between degradation and empowerment, predator and prey, person and commodity.” (A.O.Scott, NYTimes, Friday, May 22, 2009, review of Steven Soderbergh”s, “The Girlfriend Experience”)  They are also exploring personal issues of body image, desirability, beauty and sexuality. As cosplay and role playing becomes increasingly popular, I give them a different kind of role to inhabit and thus reveal themselves. Again, my interest in ritual has crept back into my work. The images have become icons, hinting at mysterious and powerful female cults. I design and make all the costumes, jewelry, props and sets used in my photos.

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