In Caryn Drexl’s Skin


Thaw by Caryn Drexl

Later it is the air she will remember. The sharpness of it as she inhaled: crisp like paper. She could have been breathing paper. There was a rush of sound, like a train passing, or maybe like she was the train. Thick colors swirled and time became molasses as her legs slowly tumbled around behind her and then over her head… She was the blob of paint spreading thinly every which way, spindling in all directions, pulled flat, slow and hard. That was how she tumbled and then time caught up with itself and she dropped. – Bridge suicide scene from Amanda Davis’ “Circling the Drain”

Being a human can be pretty scary when you become too aware of your flesh. This is especially true if you’re a woman. Photographer Caryn Drexl knows it, and isn’t afraid to show that in the most visceral way.

To me, many of these images are about profound loss; loss of the feeling that you were once normal and whole, a feeling that we had as children and gradually traded for the good and the bad that comes with the desire to reshape yourself to fit certain beauty ideals. I suggest going through Drexl’s entire portfolio in one sitting and paying attention to the image titles. It’s like taking a journey through some gnarled dark woods, with Drexl’s sense of humor shining through like sunlight through the branches. Drexl has a remarkable power to use motifs that I’d thought had lost all their magic, such as dolls, broken glass and tears, to provoke a real reaction. With all the misuse of such themes in alt photography, I never thought that seeing them would impact me again – but it has. Drexl comes from a pure place and it seems to me like she never uses an object in a photo unless there’s a compelling personal reason.

Drexl uses herself as a model in many of the pictures, and writes in her bio, “I consider myself an artist the internet made.”

More of my favorite images, after the jump. Thanks for the tip, Megumi!


“remains of the day”


“what’s in her head”


“oh sylvia”


“hanging up my femininity”

4 Responses to “In Caryn Drexl’s Skin”

  1. zoetica Says:

    I love Caryn’s work! I’ve been following her on LJ for a couple of years now and it’s been a worthwhile journey thus far.

  2. Jerem Morrow Says:

    It’s a term traditionally used to describe certain actors, but there’s a ‘stillness’ in her work that’s very attractive. She’s covering subjects that no doubt are hot button issues for most people. Discussing via her work ideas that usually come with mind-killing rage und a tendency towards ze unfocused. Not here. Her hand is steady, but sure. I approve, greatly.

  3. theremina Says:

    She’s absolutely incredible. I purchased a copy of “A Woman’s Body: Mapped” from the Wurzeltod Shoppe a few years ago and have it proudly framed. Really looking forward to where her vision takes us next.

  4. Disposable Darling Says:

    I love Caryn Drexl! I’ve made a blog post about her, too:
    http://disposabledarling.com/blog/2009/10/11/dolls-and-gals/

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