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“This is not another fat kid’s story,” the Los Angeles-based photographer Sam Geballe cautions. In Self-Untitled, they photograph their body over two years. The ongoing

narrative is cleaved carefully into two phases, a before and after that run along and at times overlap the murky and ambiguous line marked by a gastric bypass part way through. Self-Untitled is, as Geballe suggests, a series that defies easy answers, a tale in which agony and courage, isolation and reconnection, become commingled.

Geballe began taking self-portraits out of necessity; they were reluctant to ask others to give their time, so they became their own constant subject. Initially, their shots served to envision what they imagined the external world saw in them. Making images was a way of enduring and of surviving.

At around the time they underwent the gastric bypass, Geballe’s process changed. At first, the changes frightened them; they felt naked and exposed. They went numb, and their thoughts choked before they could begin to take shape. It was arduous to continue shooting the series, and at times, all Geballe wanted was to be alone and without the camera. It took a few months for the cloud to lift, but now the photographer relishes the possibility of change.

The photographer admits that, with time, they have discovered the power and beauty of their body. Looking back, they mention that the project has forced them to see themself truly for the first time, to recognize their unhappiness and then leave it behind. “It was the first time seeing a photo I had taken of myself and thinking it was beautiful,” the artist remembers of one of the pictures.

They criticize themself less now, and they continue to capture their journey both in their own home and at their grandparents’ in Northern California, where they are enveloped and secluded by forest. That place–with its magical light and the personal history it carries—becomes a second muse throughout the work. “The most rewarding thing has been waking up,” the artist says. “I have woken up from the denial regarding my eating disorder and weight to newfound gratitude and focus in my life.”

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All images © Samantha Geballe

via aCurator