Zed Nelson – LOVE ME
Love Me 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 industry competing for the title of ‘Miss Atom’.
The project explores a new form of globalization, 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, he depicts them as 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. Nelson’s seminal project Gun Nation was exhibited worldwide, awarded five major international photography prizes and published as a book. The LOVE ME book was recently shortlisted for the Leica European Publishers Award for Photography and awarded First Prize in the 2010 Pictures of the Year International Competition (USA). Nelson’s work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, and is also in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Nelson has had solo shows in London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Sydney and New York.
LOVE ME has been developed through a partnership between Ffotogallery and Impressions Gallery