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Denise Prince Photography



ANAMNESIA: Captivating Not Captive


To see beauty is to know love but, while the apprehension of beauty is through the eye, it is through the lens’s’ marriage of light and beauty that the psyche is truly captivated. Light mediates the relationship between physical and intellectual reason, an elegant analogy between enlightenment and illumination, between physical and intellectual vision.


We’ve always delivered fire. We’ve always deified light. Plotinus saw a world awash in divine light, infusing matter with spiritual forms. Heraclitus exalted fire as the first principle. Denise Prince sees beauty beyond the veil of ego.


Beauty radiates fully formed from Prince’s subjects, infused with divine light as aesthetic objects. It is eyesight on fire, threatening to seer [sic] into one’s soul if one looks directly, scarred by the light of reason and the light of the sun. The dilemma, ought we see, is anamnesis or amnesia.


If we perceive beauty it induces anamnesis, a memory of a terrific encounter with the Real, a meaningless traumatic hole. Then one must choose: either captive to trauma or captivated by beauty. If one is captive then one remembers only the anxiety of that esoteric encounter with the Real; but, if one is captivated then one is driven by the desire to know and love, to recollect, to recover Prince’s revelation.

Charles Merward, ψa      clinical philosopher and psychoanalyst

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department






“…even in the public. I go out of there. I play the dancing with her. Oh, my god! I think I’m look like the crazy monkey. But who care, you know?”


from Captivating, Not Captive
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Captivating Not Captive uses the language of fashion photography to exalt those whose physical appearance does not align with the contemporary white Western standards. This ongoing work represents a decade of carefully cultivated relationships with survivors of physical trauma, people born with conditions and others who have found their own beauty. The series includes self-asserting quotes from the subjects, photographs, video and performance art. The aim, as one model put it, is to “Change the way people see beauty.”