Karen Brett, "Untitled", from the series "The Myth of Sexual Loss", 1998-2002, C-Print

Karen Brett, “Untitled”, from the series “The Myth of Sexual Loss”, 1998-2002, C-Print

Karen Brett

The Myth of Sexual Loss series explores the ageing sexual body. The work challenges ideology surrounding sexuality and the fear of the ageing body that exists within our society. The overall approach is one of intimacy and sensitivity towards the subject, while at the same time aims to develop an aesthetic style that does not sensationalize, but instead respects the integrity and privacy of the subject.

While we live in an ever-increasingly receptive society, our attitude towards sex and ageing is still one of taboo and denial. When we reach a certain age we are put into a category of non-sexual beings. Love and sex are both physical and mental activities that should remain a healthy option, if not a more important part in later life.

The initial idea came from my time spent as a care-taker in which I realized that intimacy and sensuality is a very personal and individual affair. We all have our own passions and desires that stay with us until we die. My time as a nurse enabled me to communicate on an in-depth level with people aged 60-90, and has provided me with an invaluable insight into later life.

The body of work allows the composure of the aged body in some instances to seep through onto other levels of photographic representation, one that borders on the iconic. However, the visual structure of each image creates an integral element in the reading of the work. Using a tight frame, the subjects become more intense, yet calm, and at some points disorientating to the viewer. The onlooker is invited to reconsider the margins and boundaries of their assumptions about sexuality.

Karen Brett (Bristol, UK) teaches Photographic Arts at the University of Whales . Her work in photography, moving image, and sound has explored mental health, domestic abuse, and intimacy in the third age. She has exhibited primarily in England as well as at venues in Canada and Scotland. Brett received awards from The Arts Council of England for the development of new work in 2003, the Melhuish Fine Art Award from South West Arts in 2001, and the European Award for Women Photographers in 2000. Her work has been featured in catalogs published by Le Mois de la Photo Montreal, Norwich Gallery, Fotogallery, Dryphoto Arte Contemporanea, and the London arts magazine, Nextlevel.