The more bitter and direct the humour, the better photographer Lara Verheijden should have thought when she made Hoera (Hooray, 2017). In the picture we see Verheijden holding a garland with the text Hoera in front of her eyes. Only the letter A is curled up, thus effectively spelling hoer (whore).
The garland seemed so exuberant, but since the A disappeared, the reference to sex and the taboo that rests on female sexuality are created. As a woman, aren't you allowed to enjoy sex? Why this taboo, sex is something fun, Verheijden seems to say.
Verheijden does not spare herself. She regularly appears naked in her work, but these portraits are rarely flattering and not remotely erotic. In Vissenkom Selfie (Fish bowl Selfie 2018), the stare of the stern is the plexiglass of a fishbowl, with the upper part of the body bare. In Personal Self-Portrait (2017), Verheijden even photographs herself completely naked. Located on the floor of her bedroom, she made a selfie with her iPhone in a mirror.
Embedded work is playful and simple. The direct style of photography fits in seamlessly with the times, the iPhone in Personal Self-Portrait and the word selfie in the title Fish bowl Selfie do the rest. Yet as a viewer you immediately feel that there is something awry with Lara Verheijden’s photos. One wonders how personal a Personal Self Portrait really is when shared with the rest of the world? At the same time, the work raises the question why you shouldn't share it with the rest of the world.
In order to get the naked body out of the taboo and to show how sensuality and eroticism can be depicted in a different way, Verheijden, together with Michiel Stadman, devised the Amsterdam Nude Calendar; a modern, artistic take on the Pirelli calendars. For the annual calendars, a group of models are portrayed in an intimate and unpolished manner in typical Amsterdam places.