Exhibitions: Girl Gaze, A Frame of Mind

By David Schonauer   Tuesday November 22, 2016

The world is gazing at the female gaze.

A recent New Yorker  profile discussed the female gaze of photographer Petra Collins, while the New York Times  took note of the female gaze as seen at the new PhotoVogue Festival in Milan (November 22 to 26). And today we spotlight an exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography  in Los Angeles called “#girlgaze: A Frame of Mind.”

The digitally driven interactive exhibition, which is on view through February 26, 2017, features work curated from #girlgaze, an internet project supporting “girls behind the camera” that was founded by a number of female photographers and artists.

Begun as an Instagram hashtag through which budding female artists could have their work seen widely, #girlgaze  was the brainchild of photographer Amanda de Cadenet, “It took me a while to realize, but there’s a patriarchal infrastructure built into many businesses that’s so old, and it’s been in place for so long that it was almost invisible,” de Cadenet wrote earlier this year at Teen Vogue. She enlisted several other women — artist and film director Sam Taylor-Johnson, supermodel Amber Valleta, fashion photographer Inez Van Lamsweerde, and photojournalist Lynsey Addario —to launch the project.

What started as a social-media movement with more than 450,000 submissions on Instagram has grown into a multimedia platform for girl photographers, notes the Annenberg. “In addition to its digital showcase for images, #girlgaze provides a larger ecosystem supporting the work and careers of fledgling female and gender-nonconforming  photographers, artists and creatives, from providing grants to securing jobs,” the museum adds.

The exhibition presents select photos from the project, forming what the Annenberg calls a map of the “imaginative landscape of young, female and trans-identifying photographers from around the world.”

Writing about the exhibition recently at the Huffington Post, Maddie Crum highlighted three of the photographers represented, noting that their work depicts women “expressing themselves on their own terms, rather than for the sake of adhering to patriarchal beauty standards.”

“In a self-portrait taken by Amaal Said, the artist wears two nose rings and a purple headscarf to match her purple eyeliner, brow liner and lipstick,” Crum writes. “In a more journalistic interpretation of the #girlgaze prompt, Dominique Booker shared an image of a young black girl wearing a wizened, exasperated expression while holding up a sign that bluntly reads, ‘Stop killing us.’ And, in a photo by Emma Craft, three young women run through a field, displaying action rather than the rigid, appealing poses typically reserved for women subjects.”

“The project’s greatest strength might be its variety,” Crum notes. “[T]he female gaze, it seems to say, is a sweeping one, not a single, quiet perspective that’s easily quelled.”


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