Uncomfortable Sunburn Portraits By Thomas Mailaender

Uncomfortable Sunburn Portraits By Thomas Mailaender

French artist Thomas Mailaender took the old concept of the body as a canvas to a whole new artistic level with his project entitled ‘Illustrated People’.


In this series, he masterly combines performance art and photography by applying 23 original negatives from the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC), an organization that collects and preserves vernacular material relating to the history of war, onto the skin of volunteers while projecting a powerful UV lamp from the 70s over the negatives.

The light emanated from the lamp shone on the skin of the models in such a way that an image from the negative appeared on the exposed area. This process has an effect similar to sunburns, yet it’s not quite the same. The images are fleeting, and they disappear very quickly once exposed to sunlight. The artist captured these ephemeral body images with his camera just moments before they began to fade.

Thomas told that he was interested in using the skin as photosensitive material in order to transform the subject matter of the AMC’s negatives into sheer pain of sunburn. He didn’t torture his models, but he assumed this violent role and used his subjects’ bodies as physical metaphors that carry the stories of people that suffered in deadly conflicts of the twentieth century.

This project tackles major social issues in the most subtle way. Its innovative concept and stunning visualization draw attention to the temporality of human life, as well as the nature of human violence.

See more UV-burnt portraits taken by Thomas below!








Category: Culture & Arts