press: L.A Weekly

Tomorrow, London-based artist Leigh de Vries brings to the United States for the first time the work that has come to define her artistic career, with a screening of her film Exposure: Broken Reality Tunnel. The film is a revelation of her deepest, darkest secret.

Until she made the film, De Vries suffered in silence from body dysmorphia, a psychiatric illness similar to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), in which people misperceive defects in their appearance, disrupting their ability to function. A person with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) might compulsively check a mirror (or avoid mirrors altogether), become fixated with a blemish or a feature of their body, seek constant reassurance about their appearance or repeated cosmetic surgeries. Overall, they experience disturbing preoccupations or emotional distress like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

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Press: VICE

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Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) – an anxiety disorder whereby sufferers have a distorted view of how they look – can manifest itself in myriad ways. The constant checking of appearance in a mirror – or the total avoidance of reflective surfaces; compulsive skin picking; seclusion; cosmetic surgery. These behaviours can shut sufferers off from the world and trap them in a cycle of fear and self-loathing. In the most extreme cases, BDD can lead to suicide.

Despite the odd celebrity confession, it's still a "new" condition in terms of understanding and public awareness. It was only recognised as being on the 'obsessive-compulsive spectrum' related to OCD in 2013. One in 100 people in the UK are thought to suffer from the disorder, although it is likely this number is higher. Experts in the field tend to agree that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), along with anti-anxiety meds are currently the recommended starting point for therapists and doctors to go about treating it. But there's also a "human problem-solving process" that's been with us a while longer: manifesting and facing our vexations through art.

Two artists taking the raw material of their fears and obsessions and turning them in photography, performance and film are Liz Atkin and Leigh de Vries.