Isabelle Mège

Joel Peter Witkin: Negre's Fetishist, Paris 1990

I was looking for some inspiration today and decided to revisit the work of Joel Peter Witkin. The Etherton Gallery has a solid collection of his photographs if you are not familiar with his work, which is not for anyone who doesn't have an open mind. Witkin uses cadavers, body parts, dwarves, transsexuals among other subjects to create stunning tapestries that explore themes of death, sex and deviance. The photographs are often highly directed to evoke classic paintings, religious themes and mythology. His style and vision are singular, though not without their detractors. I'm not one of them and consider him among the more important photographers the medium has seen.

Anyway, this isn't really about JPW. While I was searching images on Bing (yes, Bing not Google - Bing's image search is far superior imo), I clicked on the image above and noticed it was included in a New Yorker magazine piece. Curiosity got the best of me and I found myself stuck in a fascinating tale of a French woman, Isabelle Mège, the woman in the image above. I won't get into all the details here as you should read it yourself but, it's a wild story of a woman with a regular job and life who has been photographed by dozens of photographers who are big deals in the art world, including Witkin obviously. The twist is in how it all came to be, as she wasn't sought to be a model, but sought photographers she greatly admired to photograph her.

I highly recommend checking this out for not only the oddness of her story but it's an excellent profile in determination, trust and vision. Some of the tales from the photographers are worth the read alone. Ultimately though, you might find yourself wondering if Isabelle Mège is more of an artist herself rather than a quirky woman who wanted to model for people's work she highly admired.