06 June 2022

Sculpting Perfect Human Attraction

06 June 2022 - Written by PhMuseum

In this series, Ellen Smeets guides us through the effects of reaching for the ideal-body standards, exploring the relationships among images, surgical interventions and the human body.

I act as an investigator by using methods of scientific research, documentary photography, reconstructed existing images, and staging scènes. This variety of images is based on stories about specific topics such as botox, morbid obesity, implants, face surgery, and measurement of attractiveness. Building an intricate narrative, where fact and fiction coexist to reveal a complicated view of a world in which appearance is questioned.

Visual society has a major impact on the way we perceive the world and how we see ourselves. The media is jam-packed with idealized images that gradually become a benchmark of the ordinary. ‘Reconstructions as Fundamental Methods’ questions the complex relationship between the functioning of the body on the one hand and luxurious alterations to that body on the other. My interest was immediately aroused by the story of a father who after the birth of his not-good-looking baby, got suspicious about his wife and the veracity of her appearance. He then discovered that she was the result of a 75.000 euro plastic surgery procedure, and filed a lawsuit against her on the basis of fraud winning 90.000 euros in damages.

The perverse nature of possibilities and extensive fields of applications available in both medical and cosmetic markets are at the core of these images, looking at the gray areas between the luxurious and necessary of these physical interventions.

Words and pictures by Ellen Smeets 


Ellen Smeets (b. 1980) holds an MFA from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, and a postgraduate degree in fine arts from Post-St-Joost Breda. Ellen’s artistic practice revolves around the human condition within a social context. She is presently based in Antwerp, Belgium. Follow her on Instagram and PhMuseum


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PhMuseum curators.

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