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Impressions Gallery

exhibitions: past


Zed Nelson

04th Mar - 28th May 2011

Award-winning photographer Zed Nelson reflects on the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty.

Over a period of five years Zed Nelson visited eighteen countries across five continents, photographing cosmetic surgeons, beauty queens and bodybuilders alongside everyday teenagers, housewives and businessmen. In this extensive cross-cultural investigation, we see an annual prison beauty contest in a South American penitentiary, Iranians queuing for nose jobs in Tehran and female staff at a Russian nuclear agency competing for the title of‘Miss Atom’.

The project explores a new form of globalisation, where an increasingly narrow Western beauty ideal is being exported around the world like a crude universal brand. Whilst Nelson's subjects appear willing participants in an omnipresent culture of bodily improvement, they might equally be considered hapless victims - at the mercy of larger social forces and locked into an insatiable craving for approval. As the subject’s frailties and pretensions are exposed, so too are we the viewer: our motives for looking, for inspecting, along with uncomfortable reminders of our own vanities and insecurities.

Zed Nelson's previous awards include the Visa d’Or at the International Festival of Photojournalism, France; first prize in the World Press Photo Competition and the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, USA.

The publication LOVE ME (Contrasto publishing), was recently shortlisted for the Leica European Publishers Award for Photography and awarded First Prize in the 2010 Pictures of the Year International Competition (USA).

LOVE ME is an Impressions Gallery Touring Exhibition and has been developed through a partnership between Impressions Gallery and Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography and lens-based media in Wales.

Exhibition resources

Click here to download an information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 400kb)
Click here
to download a large print information sheet about the exhibition (pdf 400kb)

Listen again

Listen to Zed Nelson's Artist Talk recorded at Impressions Gallery on 16 April 2011 (1 hour 1 min, 28mb)

What the papers say

Guardian Guide (pdf 48kb)
Telegraph & Argus (pdf 92kb)

The Royal Photographic Society (pdf 460kb)
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Exhibition on tour

Durham Art Gallery, 5 May to 24 June 2012
Perspektivet Museum, Norway, 11 October to 27 January 2013
Light House and Wolverhampton Art Gallery 16 February to 8 June 2013

Christopher, 22. Chest wax. J. Sister’s salon. New York, USA.

Christopher, 22. Chest wax. J. Sister’s salon. New York, USA.

Zed Nelson

Click on thumbnail below to enlarge

Christopher, 22. Chest wax. J. Sister’s salon. New York, USA. Elham, 19, and her mother, 55. Rhinoplasty ‘nose job’ operation. Tehran, Iran. Katie, age 9. Winner. Universal Royalty Texas State Pageant. Texas, USA. Nose bridge prosthetic implants, to increase size of nose. Beijing, China. Finalist. Miss South Africa Competition. Sun City, South Africa.


The exhibition was very good. I had mixed emotions
for the people-models-body parts-places involved.
I couldn’t decide who was the least fortunate as
my sympathy and repulsion often centred around the same image or person. Whatever number that vanity lies in the sins we commit, it should be in the top three at least!

A sobering and often shocking exhibition, but very necessarily in an insane world.

It has changed my views on a lot of things and was very interesting, Thanks

Katy aged 12

Really moving work. It saddens me to see how everyone feels they need to be perfect. An excellent exhibition.

Exhibition Visitor

interesting and impressive collection and fantastic piece of social documentary in our time.

Exhibition Visitor

You have put my thoughts into pictures about the western society and globalization.

Exhibition Visitor

What a amazing collection of thought provoking images, worth the trip to see it.

Exhibition Visitor

Thank you for presenting such a poignant set of images in a way that challenged me without trying to sell me moral perspective. The balance between storytelling and letting me make up my own mind was perfect.

Exhibition Visitor