BARE TRUTH – Ilan Wittenberg

A compelling collection of images showing bare chested men will feature in the Auckland Festival of Photography 2016 Signature Programme.

5-22 June 2016

Northart Gallery
Norman King Square
Ernie Mays Street – Northcote Shopping Centre
Open daily 10am -4pm

One of the key aims of Wittenberg’s ‘Bare Truth’ campaign was to counter-balance the portrayal of men as strong, physically and emotionally. “This stereotype sometime leads to dire outcomes when considering how poorly typical men treat health symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.

“I wanted to raise awareness; give men the freedom to express their feelings and connect with their emotions. This fresh look at men is an eye-opening opportunity to see real people without the ‘shield’ of clothes. The project simply reminds us of how fragile we are.”

The combination of shooting in monochrome, using soft, directional light and adopting a special post-processing technique allowed Wittenberg to enhance the features of his ‘models’ so that the images are raw and crisp. The simple backgrounds eliminate distractions so the viewer can focus on their body language and facial expression.

The biggest challenge was finding the first man to agree to pose. After a few rejections, Wittenberg created portraits of close friends and family members. As the portfolio expanded, he formalised a consistent style and became confident in approaching strangers – men who had an interesting appearance or whose face told a story.

“While some men are very comfortable with having their portrait created, others feel this is completely outside their comfort zone, particularly when asked to strip down to the waist. One man expected the experience to be therapeutic while others were slightly nervous. The results show a captivating mix of men that are humble, courageous and vulnerable.”

The project gained momentum after selected prints from the body of work won awards in the Portrait Classic category of the 2015 Iris Awards from the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. ‘Bare Truth’ was also selected as an Associated Exhibition at the 2016 Head On photo festival in Sydney.

About the photographer:
Having studied and worked in industrial engineering and information technology, Ilan Wittenberg is a relative newcomer to professional photography, only starting his journey in 2011. But his talents were quickly recognised, winning him a plethora of national and international awards. Ilan is a Fellow of the Photographic Society of New Zealand and a Master of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography. Selected works from the Bare Truth portfolio won Ilan the title: 2015 Auckland Photographer of the Year

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