Confessions and shared empathies
Review by Grady Harp
Fritz Liedtke is a professional photographer and artist whose museum quality work has gained him high ranking in the world of important contemporary artists. But Fritz Liedtke is also a humanitarian as this profoundly beautiful and sensitive book asserts. Before opening the windows on to the lives of the people he has studied, interviewed and photographed over the past eight years, each of whom is struggling with a life of eating disorders, he shares his own history of his conflict with anorexia – a brief though touching insight into the inner sanctum of people who share his dysfunction. The book then introduces a Foreword by Gina Ochsner who further elucidates the concept of eating disorders, providing an informed introduction to the pages that follow.
The eating disorders of anorexia (also known as anorexia nervosa) and bulimia are explained through the words of people who struggle with these at times incapacitating disorders. The information is shared in each person’s own words and is coupled by a photograph of that speaker. The subjects are both men and women, very young to elderly, a cross section of races and ethnic groups, all types of people whose pain is explained better than any book yet written about this subject.
Much of the reason this information is so pertinent to us is the fact that our current society has created a trend to look a certain way in order to achieve success – as models, dancers, actors, people looking for employment and afraid of being perceived as being overweight. But what Fritz Liedtke allows us to hear and see are the many factors that are the etiologies behind the feeling of the need to deny food, to regurgitate after eating so as not to appear fat even if the subject is paper thin to begin, the emotional backgrounds of why these people are trapped in a situation for which there is not only little understanding among the general populace, but also among the health professions.
Each story is deeply touching: each photograph is a masterwork of composition, color control, lighting sensitivity, and biography. This is an art book to be sure, but it is far deeper than that. This is a major achievement in shedding some light on a secretive process that affects millions of people, silently, until now. Highly recommended.
Grady Harp, November 2013
TITLE: SKELETON IN THE CLOSET: EATING DISORDERED LIVES
AUTHOR: FRITZ LIEDTKE