“Nature is always beautiful and also disgusting. Even the most beautiful people leak, bleed and shit,” says Maisie Cousins of the relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque in her sticky, sweaty, hyper-saturated photographs and videos.
Approaching the female body with unflinching honesty, the London-based creator portrays her models as they feel comfortable, subverting ideals of perfection in the process. “What’s the point of taking a nice picture?” says Cousins. “There is no need for me to appeal to nice – I’m not making an advert for a perfume! I’m not interested in nice things; I like grossing myself out.” Her brightly coloured images do exactly that, appealing to some of our most basic human impulses – namely, the ones that make you want to squish something slimy or pick at a spot.
Since beginning to share her work with the internet at the age of 15, Cousins reached beyond the realms of Tumblr to shoot for Polyester zine, contribute to Petra Collins’ Babe, and project some “rude images” at the Tate – but she’s not stopping there. “In all honesty, I think it’s pretty tough and competitive being a photographer today,” she says. “It’s very easy to be exploited by big companies and magazines, but with social media and the internet you can stretch out your audience with your own control and push it in the direction you want. Photography seems to be the biggest way of globally communicating these days.”
Text Biju Belinky