Art

Photo Essay: Found Women and Identity

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This project started unconsciously in 2009. I was living in London, and I enjoyed visiting vintage stores that had these rare images. I was just interested in collecting photos of women. After I had about 20 of them, all collected during my travels over a few years, I put them up on a wall in my studio. Earlier this year, I decided to put these together into a project with some notes and thoughts that had been floating in my head.

I feel very connected to the idea of the perception of women, how they see themselves and how people see them, as well as how they perceive the world. I feel as though photos can be great tools to further or challenge ideas of beauty, perception, and selfhood – particularly when it comes to women.

One of the first photos in the collection is this photo, of the two women dressed in winter coats. I bought it from the Kingston Flea Market for £2 . It immediately connected with me, because I liked the idea of women supporting women. I like the youth shows in their faces and the energy of mischief they both have. I like to think about why they must have taken this photo, and why that day could have been special for them. This photo also has a small signature at the back, which makes it authentic and personal. It’s like I have a part of someone else’s memory that is unknown to me, but must have been important to them.

One of my favorite photos is this one, of a woman sitting on a table with the paper torn exactly where her face is. I found it like this in a small shop in Jodhpur. It’s so interesting, because she’s dressed in expensive clothes, suggesting royalty and beauty, but her face, the marker of her true identity, is missing. I like these torn or wounded images.

Photos courtesy of author.

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