For thirty-three years, John Coplans has photographed his body nude. He made his first picture of his back and hands in 1978 when he was fifty-eight and the last in 2001, at the age of eighty-one.
Mythic in scope and unflinching in its examination of one person’s humanness and mortality, Coplans transcends, in this sequence of 115 images, the boundaries of photography as an art.
A painter by training and a self-taught photographer by choice, Coplans uses his own headless body as his subject matter and as his medium to investigate every inch and idea about his maleness. Epic, grotesque, bittersweet, sensual, provocative, poignant, funny, and even—at times—absurd, Coplans achieves a visual meditation on the compelling relationship between sensuality, aging, and death that is unparalleled in the history of the medium.
The author, beheading his photographed body, generalises it to make it more like any other man’s. Nakedness removes the body from the specificity of time. Unclothed, it belongs to the past, present, and future. It is classless, without country, unencumbered by language and free to wander across cultures at will.