Looking Upwards



Mexican photographer Lizeth Arauz' series on little people, "Looking Upwards", is like a storybook for children: the darkness of the images engulfs you, speaking of realms unknown and slightly off-kilter; the costumes glitter with a strange sex-appeal, and the decors invoke circuses of times we thought long gone.

But this is where the side-show act stops. Each photograph transpires such genuine emotion, the small characters and their giant smiles draw you into their circle, pulling you out of the expected fantasy. If we suddenly can't take out eyes away, it is with awe rather than compassion or curiosity. A dancer's confidence; the pride of a bullfighter; the reverence of a prayer. And joy, so much joy, in the simplicity of family and communal life.

Arauz' photojournalistic work is precious for the glimpse into a life none of us can imagine; the life of a body different from the norm, surviving by putting itself on display. With a couple of dozen photographs, she destroys all the stereotypes of dwarves and midgets in show business and literature, and broadens our sense of normalcy. While the vision is probably romanticised by the beauty of her images, bathed in the gloomy light of the carny lifestyle, it is rich in such humanity that we find ourselves not only understanding, but also recognizing.