photographer elise arumets is inspired by sex, death, and the human body
Consider your body as something more than flesh and bone.
From the series, Petite Mort.
Melbourne-based photographer Elise Arumets' works explore themes and commonalities between the human body, sexuality, and objects. Her images are personal and marked by a remarkable self-awareness. Shifting between the erotic and mundane, she ties together surreal and at times unsettling images and urges the observer to consider their bodies as more than flesh and bone.
Elise's recent projects have seen her move between collage, re-considering classic still life forms, and at times confronting visions of anatomy. We sat down with her to discuss the ideas and experiences that inform her work.
What about photography appeals to you as a media?
A lot of people talk about how photography can hold memory, but I don't like to think about it like that. I like that you can construct your own memory—which I think is really interesting. It's more of a less romantic style of painting, and can be a lot grittier and real. It's the best way to represent human subjects and the body.
You're obviously very drawn to human body, why does it reoccur throughout your work?
It's personal, everyone experiences the body. There are also a lot of feminist undertones, sexuality is a big thing as well, seeing the naked body without being sexualised I think is really important. When I use myself as the subject in my photos I don't edit them and I try not to position myself in a way where I'm conscious of what I'm going to look like in the photo. Sometimes I'll look at my photos and think "oh my god my butt looks disgusting" or "oh my god I didn't know I looked like that" but that's the whole point of it.
Your series Lose Ten Pounds in Two Weeks grapples with societal expectations of women, do you see your work as political?
That work began on its own as an experiment series, and then I was on a website and one of those little banners ads came up where it's like "LOSE TEN POUNDS IN TEN WEEKS! How she got her stomach flat!". That got me thinking. The series began with the self portraits and then I used the images to Google search other images that were visually similar. Whatever came up first I would use as a backdrop to contrast with Google Image's response to my body. I'd say that series, and my other ones, are political in a sense because they're commenting on the way women's bodies are censored and the beauty standards that exist that aren't even questioned. I found it pretty confronting to be able to Google Image search my body and come across photos that were telling me what I had to be like.
Text Sasha Geyer
Photography Elise Arumets