“HERSELF: " A conversation with Society
Shortly after my foray into the world of film photography, I was introduced to the concept of “The Male Gaze” via a 1975 essay entitled: "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” by Laura Mulvey. This essay postulated that it was a “Mans World” during the time that cinema and photography were invented. She made the observation that since it was mostly men looking through the lenses of cameras at that time, “the spectator" behind the lens for the better part of a century was predominantly male. By default, this placed the female subjects as "the object of desire."
As I contemplated this notion, it became clear to me that the influence of "The Male Gaze" has had a deep and lasting effect on society’s collective subconscious. With the intent of initiating positive dialog surrounding the subject of “The Male Gaze” and it's influence on society via a photo project, I began by asking women about their thoughts on this subject and how it has influenced their life personally. As a female photographer, I decided to explore how it might be different from a woman’s perspective.
Within the context of “a conversation,” I asked each woman to contemplate the concept of “The Male Gaze” and how conditioning by the media might have influenced their subconscious views of themselves and their body image. With that in mind, I asked each woman as the subject of an art photo to choose from a place of empowerment, what they would like to “say” to us about themselves as the subject of an art photo.
And, with that in mind, each woman chose the concept, the setting, what they wore or didn’t wear in the photo. As their collaborator, my contribution was the visual compositions, the processing of the film and the making of the prints. The net result is that each photo speaks with a purely feminine voice; each photo is a unique and feminine statement about “Herself” via “The Female Gaze.”
It's been my sincerest hope that this project initiates positive dialogue about the history and the unseen influences that shape culture. It is my hope that this project plays a role in (no matter what gender or orientation we were born into) balancing the Yin/Yang energies of the natural and universal “masculine/feminine" as we collectively move humanity towards a more balanced evolution. (Yes, a lofty goal, to be sure!)
•Note: The Photos before you today are a just small sample from my photographic journey with film cameras that began back in 2012; the year I turned 50 years old. Some of these photos are from my women's project, some are not, but all of them represent the gaze of a woman composing images through old glass lenses that have witnessed so much change.