Bertil Nilsson

Bertil Nilsson’s work is a study of the human form, it’s physicality and movements. The subjects that feature in his work are either dancers or circus performers and his book “Undisclosed” is a series of nude portraits of circus performers, which he took over a 5 year period.

In his talk he gave at Coventry University he began telling us why he chooses to work with the nude form. He uses it as a way of taking away the props and back to the core basics of a performance, the body, which is very physically focused. The nudity also shows that the relationship between subject and photographer is different to a performer and audience member. They are just performing in a space and the nudity elevates it into a more intimate relationship. It also gives the viewer a clearer perception of the strain the body undergoes under a performance, such as the imprint of a rope (image below).

Bertil Nilsson

He also talked about the theme of movement, and the paradox you are faced with when trying to capture a movement with a medium that is based on the principle of freezing a still moment. By capturing and freezing a movement mid action, it transforms it into something sculptural but still has a sense of movement, a fleeting feeling to it.

Another theme in his work is the boundaries between the nude male and female forms. How do you represent the expected attributes of a masculine form, which is strong and as apposed to a feminine form, delicate and flexible. Because the bodies appear to have similarities and during the series at times is hard to distinguish between the two. In this body of work the female body can in fact be more muscular than the average body as it relies heavily on strength and expected masculine attributes.


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