"If you take my face off am I still me?" These are the types of questions photographer Max Aguilera-Hellweg ponders. The artist has been a photojournalist for over twenty-five years and even studied with the likes of Annie Leibovitz, before working on an assignment with a neurosurgeon that changed his life's work forever. He became immersed in the world of anatomy, surgical procedures, and even went so far as to enroll in Columbia University's pre-med program. He completed his medical degree at Tulane University in 2004, and in the years since has compiled a body of work that some have criticized as being prurient. Others have gone so far as to liken his images to cannibalism.
Aguilera-Hellweg presents the notion of a boundaryless existence in the way that he reveals the most terrifying, yet sacred thing for many people -- the insides of our own bodies. In the photographs organs glisten, skin is splayed open, and tools penetrate the most vulnerable of places -- all in vivid, dramatic technicolor. To look deep into the chest cavity of a prone man is almost like staring into the sun. Average people don't encounter this imagery on a daily basis, and that's part of what Aguiler-Hellweg's work is so compelling. He has tapped into one potent psychological combination: terror and fascination. It's the same reason why some horror fans obsess over gore flicks and body horror.