When I offered to model for Alexis Percival’s Unwrapped series last year, I hardly knew her. But I had seen some pictures from the series at a group show in Harlem and their simple elegance drew me to the wall.
I wanted to know more about Alexis’s work and I thought that modeling for her would be a good way. As she offered me a glass of wine and Ricky, her fluffy cat, purred around my ankles, I felt that posing and revealing my secret was as natural as sharing a pot of tea.
“At the outset I didn’t ask my friends to do it,” said Alexis, “because I didn’t think they’d want to reveal their secrets to a friend, but actually I know everyone in the project with the exception of a handful and most of them became friends later.”
The photographs show people peeling bandages away from sections of their uncovered skin. The words on the bandages reveal a different secret for each person.
“I used bandages because I anticipated it being something that could be a wound,” said Alexis, “perhaps more painful secrets than a lot of them have been.”
“The models don’t have to be naked,” said Alexis. “A lot of people don’t understand that. I don’t choose the secret and I don’t choose the body part.”
One of the models is Alexis’s mother.
“When she [my mother] arrived for the shoot, she just took off all her clothes and said, whatever you need. The models have come in prepared and they’re generally very open.”
Alexis doesn’t feature in the series herself because, “I definitely do [have secrets], but I’m not sharing them here. That’s not because I don’t want to reveal anything about myself in my photography. A lot of my earlier photographs featured me. I saw this as a marker of my evolution.”
So far most of the models are women, but Alexis is starting to photograph more men for the project. I asked whether she thought men would be more reticent about revealing their secrets.
"Some people are more secretive than others, men or women," she said. "Just because someone decides to participate does not mean they have decided to really share a true secret."
These works and others will be for sale at Asali Yoga's art show and reception on December 14th.
If you would like to participate in the Unwrapped Series, please contact Alexis Percival at firstname.lastname@example.org.