The Myth of Sexual Loss (2003)

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‘The Myth of Sexual Loss’ investigates the problem of the sexuality of the aging body. Brett states: “I’ve tried to approach the subject sensitively, intimately; I wanted to achieve the creation of an aesthetic that doesn’t pull in the direction of sensation and which respects the integrality and privacy of those portrayed.”

In spite of the fact that the society in which we live is ever more open, sex and age are still taboo subjects, pushed to the very backs of our minds. When we reach a certain age, we become numbered among the list of ‘asexual’ beings. Love and sex are activities that are mental as well as physical, which is why they remain a healthy alternative, and even an important part of life in old age as well as in youth.

The idea for the project emerged when Brett was working as a nurse caring for the elderly, and realized whilst talking to her patients that intimacy and sensuality are very personal and individual matters. Brett states: “We all have our passions and desires, which stay with us until death. As a nurse, I had the opportunity to mix with people aged from sixty to ninety. This experience provided invaluable research, it enabled me to see what the later years of life look like. It prepared me, as a photographer, to throw down the visual gauntlet to the myths that accompany sex and the elderly.”

The visual structure of each image creates an integral element in the reading of the work.  Using a tight frame the subjects are made to become more intense, yet calm, and at some points disorientating to the viewer.  Therefore, the onlooker is intrigued by the significance that the image presents, and then subjected to the implications of the outer margins that each piece considers.