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Award-winning photographer Zed Nelson reflects on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty.
Over a period of five years Zed Nelson visited eighteen countries across five continents, photographing cosmetic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders alongside everyday teenagers, housewives and businessmen. In this extensive cross-cultural investigation, we see an annual prison beauty contest in a South American penitentiary, Iranians queuing for nose jobs in Tehran and female staff at a Russian nuclear agency competing for the title of‘Miss Atom’.
The project explores a new form of globalisation, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a crude universal brand. Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they might equally be considered hapless victims - at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into an insatiable craving for approval. As the subject’s frailties and pretensions are exposed, so too are we the viewer: our motives for looking, for inspecting, along with uncomfortable reminders of our own vanities and insecurities.
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Venue: Light House
Enquiries: 01902 716055
→ St Georges 5 min walk
→ Wolverhampton 3 min walk