+December 16, 2019
Mexican photographer Carol Espíndola creates images that question the idea of the “perfect” female body in her project Atlantis. Carol creates the images using self portrait photography and collage. The images are Carol's appropriation of famous works of art including work by Frida Kahlo, Bosch, and Botticelli. In the legend of Atlantis, a moral and highly advanced utopia, its citizens became greedy - which angered the gods. This caused the city of Atlantis to be lost forever due to their immoral activities. In her photographic series Atlantis, Carol uses the idea of this lost utopia as an analogy of the paradise that the “perfect” female body resembles.
Many of these paintings are works created by men of women. Carol inserts herself into these paintings as a way to challenge and abolish the male gaze. The Venus and other “perfect” female bodies are young bodies. Carol challenges the ideal of youth being the standard for feminine beauty.
Painted over 500 years ago by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus shows the goddess coming from the sea after her birth. She is already a fully-grown woman, standing elegantly on a large seashell. She was moved to shore with wind from the wind gods who appear in the painting. Venus is delicately covering her nude body with her long golden hair and her right hand. Being the goddess of love, Venus is seen as physically beautiful, possessing the ideal or perfect body. In Carol’s appropriation of the famed painting, we see the scene and the main subject, but the other subjects are not present. The Venus in this version is not standing gracefully. Instead she is on her hands and knees as if she had to row herself to shore. Carol has made each painting her own by changing the way she poses her body and changing the message of the final piece.
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch shows a three paneled painting of the Garden of Eden, that can be compared to the legend of Atlantis. Carol inserts herself as each of the subjects across the three panels. The apple, or forbidden fruit is a sign of the greatest sin. Carol becomes Eve in this work.
Carol’s work has been published in magazines including L'OEil de la Photographie, Tierra Adentro, Picnic, Magazine of the UNAM and on the CREATORS platform of Vice. Her work belongs to several public and private collections and has won awards internationally.