Abby Robinson’s photographs often portray personal and intimate everyday moments and spaces captured from a unique or curious perspective. But her ongoing series Body Imaging has the photographer intensely close with strangers’ body parts in fairly public places, capturing their eyes, noses, armpits, nipples, scars, moles and even bushy pubic hair in make-shift doctors’ offices.
As this month’s artist-in-residence at the Cosmopolitan’s P3Studio, the New York photographer has set up shop with an “exam room” and full office suite for the installation/performance/photography examination. There, visitors fill out a form in the waiting room and, after a brief consultation to determine which body part they want photographed, the session begins. Afterward, Robinson (the "photo practitioner") and the guest select the preferred image. One copy goes onto a badge, which the visitor can wear. The other is posted at P3.
“A lot of people want their hands and eyes photographed,” says Robinson, whose Cosmo experience began last week and follows three other Body Imaging installations—a closed clinic on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, an art space in Shanghai and storage container in Brooklyn (There was also a Body Imaging event at a gala for Art Production, which partners with Cosmo on the residencies). “Three women came in and wanted something they didn’t like about them. One woman wanted her thick knees photographed and another the wattle under the arm. One guy, his pointy elbows.”
In Shanghai, people were coming in off the street and one man even returned multiple times with pets (dogs, birds, a turtle, crickets). There's little humor injected, and rarely are people shy, says Robinson who teaches photography at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
The experience, she says, “is a way of looking at how people are constructed. Doctors and photographers can get really close to people—lover distance—so it’s a fun project. And I want them to actually be interesting photographs. It’s nice for them to see something that belongs to them in a way they don’t normally see it.”
Body Imaging Through August 18, Wednesday-Sunday, 6-11 p.m. Cosmopolitan’s P3Studio, 698-7000.