From February 11-21, the city of Toronto opened its doors and its individual minds to a new type of art experience on King St. West, called #BodyThoughts. A real, raw and thought provoking art pop-up experience that creates a unique space for honest conversations about our bodies.
Co-founders, Alexa Mazzarello is a former photographer whose focus was on female models and brides, and Erica McDonald is a former international model. Together, they wanted to create a different conversation around body image. They designed the experience using their multidisciplinary backgrounds and personal experiences to create an immersive, multi-medium focus that invites guests to reflect and discuss the way they think about their bodies in a meditative way.
Mazzarello expressed her exhaustion with women in front of her camera lens asking her to Photoshop certain parts of their bodies, telling her to avoid their ‘bad side’ and criticizing photos of themselves in real-time by asking to view every photo directly after each shot. It was then that she turned the camera on herself — creating a series of six self-portraits featuring none other than herself in the nude, along with an intimate audio interview.
“As an opportunity to shift the conversation, I had to put myself in front of the camera. I had to take a stand for what I was talking about… I sat down with all of my beautiful belly rolls exposed and took a picture of it. And looking at those photographs to see myself as a form, so separate from me — I saw a beautiful girl, that’s all I saw.”
With a background in sociology and a masters in public health, Mazzarello felt the need to take responsibility and stand as a woman, artist and photographer to start a new conversation for women and their bodies.
“Stepping in front of my camera was an opportunity for me to reclaim my body and my voice in a very powerful way. It was a way to liberate myself from the concerns I had about my body and to speak about what is important to me,” she said.
The #BodyThoughts experience is personal and contemplative, allowing each guest to find insights in their own thoughts around how they experience the world through their body. How do you listen to your body? What are your body thoughts? There are no right or wrong answers or premeditated takeaways. On the one hand, the goal is to challenge conventional thoughts about the way we think about our bodies. It is also a call to action for content creators to become conscious about the content they put into the world.
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