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Friday, August 19, 2011

Marks of Identity at the PhotoCenter

Four portraits from Marks of Identity:
The Body Art Photography of William DeMichele (photo provided)
A very impressive display of 32 color portraits by Albany photographer William DeMichele is on view just through Sunday (Aug. 21) at the Photography Center of the Capital District, but I'm offering this reminder to those who might still want to catch it. And that's possible, as the PhotoCenter is open from noon to 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

If you go, you will see a body of work about the body, and how people adorn it, and about those people as people. OK, a little convoluted, but the point is that these are not just sensational(istic) pictures of amazing tattoos on naked skin, they are also sensitive portraits of the people who live in that skin.

Originally made around 20 years ago, and shown quite a bit nationally and internationally, as well as having been published in numerous magazines and a couple of nice books (available for sale at the gallery), these pictures still pack a great punch. Indeed, some will be offended by them (those I've posted above are, hmmm, nothin' compared to certain others in the show); but if you focus on the art aspect and not the body aspect, it's mostly rather tame, lyrical, romantic stuff.

This is no accident - 29 of the subjects are female, with only six males weighing in (three of the portraits are of couples), so there's a fair amount of flowers and fairies ... but there are also extreme examples of whole-body designs in black or multicolored ink, clearly done by tattoo artists at the very top of the game, and there's some interesting cultural range to the design content, though all the subjects are American. And some of the bodies, also not by accident, are really very lovely to see, which isn't a bad thing, either, in my opinion.

Bottom line: Whether female or male, pretty or not, young or old, DeMichele respects his sitters, and by treating them with respect and admiration, he evokes revealing, intimate pictures that are both documents of the inky art and works of art in themselves. See 'em if you can.

Rating: Recommended

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