Project progress & seminar group feedback

Below are the first couple of photos I’ve taken for the start of my project:

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Taking them I aimed to have the photos be snapshots of my experience of female youth culture. I tried to keep the photos as candid as possible, which did prove difficult at times with friends tensing up as I brought the camera out. After a couple of days taking pictures I was more satisfied that the photos were more natural and capture the essence I was trying to get.

I played around with editing the photos as well to have them have a more analog look.

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I wanted them to have an analog effect because I think that film photos have that sense of intimacy and immediacy where you can’t linger on the pictures as you do with digital photos.

During our class on Thursday, I presented these photos with the idea that I took them as a view of women from the female gaze, as opposed to the male gaze. Where I took intimate pictures of women “being themselves” in an all girls environment.

The discussion with the group brought to light a lot of questions about femininity and the male gaze that I did hadn’t really considered in my project. Some of the points brought up were:

  • Just because work is taken from a female perspective, doesn’t necessarily mean it is free from the “male gaze”. It’s at times subconscious and inherent due to the mass media we are exposed to.
  • What we would consider as doing things such as wearing make-up as something we do for “ourselves”, isn’t wanted to wear make-up rooted in society’s expectations for women. Waves of feminist averting the male gaze have in some instances shifted from going against societies expectations, to taking ownership of it
  • Someone mentioned the photograph of my friend smoking as still having elements of sexualisation – as it has a history in film in particular of being a phallic symbol and a male symbol power.
  • While I consider some of the photographs to represent indulgence, would they be considered indulgence if males were doing it?
  • Does this kind of voyeuristic photo, in privacy not objectify women to an extent?

Having all this feedback made me wonder more about the “female gaze” and how this would effectively be achieved. It is hard to define but the clearest “definition” I could find was by Jill Soloway (creator of shows Transparent and I Love Dick) who suggested it is an aim to reclaim the body to evoke feeling, to use a camera to show how it feels to be the object of the gaze and to return the gaze on cis males. She said “Art is propaganda for the self” and encourages more women to tell their own stories.

I think the issue with my photographs on their own is that there is not enough context to kind of trigger these questions of gaze. So I thought to include an element of text or sound alongside the photos.

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