How to visualise women in the twenty-first century
As a female image maker and commissioner, this is a question I spend a lot of my time thinking about. How to be progressive and authentic, how to ensure a diverse range of perspectives without being tokenistic, and essentially, how to create work which speaks to women in a meaningful way.
It’s clear that we cannot rely on the media to reflect an authentic vision of what life is like for women today. It’s 2017 and we are still fighting for equal rights, equal pay and control over our own bodies. It feels more important than ever, to stay focused and vigilant as a community.
As its International Womens Day, I wanted to celebrate the dynamic range of voices, titles and platforms with the shared goal; to challenge the mainstream representation of women. Independent publications like Riposte, Lyra, Mushpit, Sabat, Gal-dem and Ladybeard have reshaped what it means to be a “women’s magazine”, representing women in a modern, smart and relevant way. Communities like GirlGaze and Women Photograph are working hard to raise the profile of emerging female photographic talent to affect the gender imbalance within the industry. Art institutions, both small and mighty are using their programming to empower women. The Brooklyn Museum launched “A Year of Yes: Reimagining Feminism, a long-term commitment to presenting the history of feminism as well as exploring contemporary feminist art practices. Likewise the KK Outlet showcased work by newbies Francesca Allen and Maisie Cousins, where they explored the female body with a defiant sexuality.
Representation is also about dialogue, the conversations we have around what life is like for women around the globe. Phoebe Lovatt’s Working Womens Club, Sophie Amarouso’s Girl Boss, podcasts like Another Round (Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu) and Call your Girlfriend ( Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman and Gina Delvac) are all providing conversation around issues that affect women every day, as well as offering smart ideas and solutions on how to overcome them.
In order to disrupt the mainstream codes of representation, we as individuals can embrace the platforms available to us to start, shape, and shift the conversation. To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’m sharing work by women who have both inspired me to get into the creative industry, and inspire me to stay in it!
Image by Flora Hanitijo.