My artwork is a short video clip consisting of a series of portraits of young women in a private environment and items in that environment, with a recording of a male voice reading a passage from Laura Mulvey’s essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. For this project, I aimed to have the photos be snapshots of my experience of female youth culture as a way of portraying women from the female gaze, as opposed to the male gaze. To achieve this, I tried to keep the photos as candid as possible, for them to be intimate pictures of women “being themselves” in an all-girls environment.
Upon discussion about my work and the photos I had taken, I found the complexities in trying to create a series of photos where the concept of the male gaze is being averted. While seeing the photos and taking the photos as a woman, I felt I had achieved scenes which represented woman in a natural state without being objectified, an audience projecting their own thoughts from the photos may see it differently, such as associating a photo with the history of smoking of being relatively sexualised in cinema. Due to this I thought that perhaps, rather than taking photos mainly to avert the male gaze, I would take these private glimpses into young women’s lives as a way to stimulate an awareness of the influence of the male gaze. I tried to achieve this with the voice recording, having a man reading a crucial part of the essay – focused on the display of woman in film – over the photos of women.
The essay recording in the video was my main starting influence for this project, where upon reading it found an awareness of a concept that I never realized was inherent in works and the media around me, but also at times the way I approach my work. I felt this project could be a start on trying to create work that challenges this issue. As I feel like the male gaze in works and the media subconsciously perpetuates larger issues in gender inequality and rape culture. Other influences in this project were Sarah Bahbah, who takes photographs of women which she describes as glimpses into her own life, and explores emotional freedom and the power of embracing indulgence. Petra Collins photo series The Teenage Gaze exploring the experience of youth, particularly young girls through their eyes, was also an influence. I was drawn to these photo series as I found that while being aesthetically pleasing, they felt like genuine and intimate reflections of modern millennial women portrayed outside expected social conventions, finding beauty in the private and at times taboo aspects of life.
I found this project very stimulating as a process and feel that with more time and research could develop into more work. With the time constraints, I felt a bit limited in exploring this complex and vast concept, so perhaps may continue to explore it in further projects.
Below is my finished video and the password to access it is: gaze