Allan Teger creates the popular “Bodyscapes” series of photographs. We talked with this experienced artist about his concept and building a collection.
ABI: How would you describe your Bodyscapes concept? Why do people love them?
AT: I never intended to photograph nudes. My Bodyscapes began as an illustration of the ideas that I was teaching about psychology of consciousness at the University of Pennsylvania, 40 years ago. I wanted to show that we could change our perceptions – that there could be multiple interpretations, multiple realities.
I had never photographed nudes and I had never done photography in a studio setting. My first idea was to place miniature skiers from a model railroad set, on a woman’s body, to give the illusion of a skier on a mountain. I knew right away that I had a whole series of images ahead of me! Within a few weeks I had shot about ten images, sold my work at an art festival, and had a major magazine accept them for publication.
ABI: What is the typical reaction to your work?
AT: The reaction of the viewers told me right away that I was on to something big! They would stop in their tracks – drawn in by the imagery. Some people would see immediately that there were bodies in the photographs; others would not recognize the bodies for a while. When they did see the bodies they were amazed – they laughed; they were surprised; they were captivated! In 1976, nudes were not that common at art shows. Some people were taken aback – but mostly the reaction was positive. I have been selling this work for years and I find that with each new generation of buyers, the work is still fresh and exciting.
ABI: How to you sell your collection?
AT: I participate in major art festivals in the United States – mostly in Florida during the winter, and in the midwest during the summer. I have a website which gets a great deal of attention and brings in many orders. I am also represented by a number of galleries, which carry my smaller prints as well as my larger prints and canvas pieces.
ABI: What type of press attention have you received?
AT: I have had two books published; the most recent is a hardbound coffee table book by Schiffer Publishing. My work has appeared in magazines and books in over 20 countries. I have received many awards at art festivals and gallery competitions.
The Bodyscapes have evolved over the years. I have done one series with two models in the same shot. I have done a series of surreal images. I experimented with color but chose to stay with black and white. I shot film and printed in the darkroom until two years ago. Now, although I use a digital camera, I still produce the Bodyscapes the same way that I always did – as a single exposure. I don’t use photoshop to combine images. I never did darkroom or camera tricks. My images are “real” in that they are a single exposure and I will always stay with that.
I believe that the work has been successful because it is not about nudes – it is about perception and reality. It isn’t an attempt to trick people – but to open them up to the fact that our perceptions are subjective, that reality is complex, and that we can have fun exploring how our minds work.