A Photographer’s Intimate Self-Portrait of Womanhood in Middle Age


The subject matter of most photos in Carucci’s series “Midlife” is unremarkable: a smudge of lipstick; the knuckles of a hand; a gray hair; a ripple of cellulite. What is unusual is the focus: the lips, photographed so closely that the hair on the upper lip appears wiry and thick. The knuckles, wrinkled and mountainous. The gray hair, lit against a black background, spiralling upward to an impossible height. The rippled skin, tissuey and fragile. To treat signs of impending middle age with such gravity and drama is both absurd and—it seems to me—deeply honest about the kind of intense, exhausting self-monitoring that can feel like an inescapable part of owning a female body. I love the way that these pictures literalize a familiar sensation—the impulse to magnify a tiny, errant part of yourself until it is wildly out of proportion—and, in doing so, make that impulse seem not shallow or vain but simply human.

4 September 2019