Summer 2011 - Zoom

Zoom, Summer 2011
Body and Art Issue
pp. 92-97

A night of club-hopping in New York City, out with a friend, a photograph taken on a lark — this is how Lisa Kereszi’s project got its start, culminating in the publication of the book Fantasies (Damiani Editore, 2008). Fantasies presents the world of the New American Burlesque when it was still considered to be a modern-day Victorian strip-tease. The project began in 1999 when the Giuliani administration prohibited strip-tease acts and decided to close Show World, the famous Times Square strip club. The women immortalized by Lisa Kereszi’s photographs are not the strippers we see on stage — they are the female individuals right before they turn into their Burlesque characters. We see shoes in lockers; forgotten objects; the women as they dress and put on their makeup; when, waiting to enter, they exchange their slippers for dizzyingly-high heels; when they unselfconsciously show their imperfect bodies. They are the embodiment of exposing oneself without stripping nude. Icons of the imperfect woman who feels at home with her body and is proud to show it off because she likes it, because it makes her feel important, because it is part of her.

Lisa Kereszi’s figures are closer to pin-ups than pornographic stripper images. These women are provocative, but they do not strip all the way. Lisa studies her characters in their most intimate and personal moments, those in which their resemblance to everyday women emerges, and those in which reality and make- believe merge and complement each other. Through her photos she does not reveal nudity, she reveals the psychology and personalities of these burlesque showgirls, as she likes to define them.

Fantasies presents human fascination with sex, sensuality and the female body. Lisa Kereszi captures erotic events in order to both seduce and distance the observer, and to whet and probe our interest in them. It is the vulnerability of dressing-room nudity that truly reveals the strip-teaser, and not the stage on which they perform. And this is the fundamental contradiction.

© Editrice Progresso/ZOOM magazine

Zoom 2011 spread