Balancing Representation

Balancing Representation

In a world where only 30% of artists represented by commercial galleries are women, it is important for institutions to redress the balance. As part of Photo London 2018 at Somerset House, Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, celebrates the work of females behind the lens with a dedicated exhibition. By bringing together established and emerging photographers, the collection demonstrates the breadth of contemporary talent whilst offering new perspectives on women’s experience.

Featured practitioners include Cig Harvey (b. 1973), who has featured in Aesthetica Issues 48, 65 and 80. Images such as Claire in the Forsythia, shown above, uncover cinematic moments in the everyday. Her method of storytelling delves into the past, revealing personal insights through reflective imagery and creating a fantasy version of intimate memories Using colour, gesture and space, Harvey’s body of work is both arresting to the eye and conceptually challenging.

Other foregrounded artists include Valérie Belin (b. 1964) and Amanda Charchian (b. 1988), who use interdisciplinary methods to deconstruct representations. Disrupting pre-conceived depictions of women through interweaving portraiture and graphic imagery, the practitioners offer a new visual language. In a similar way, Petrina Hicks (b. 1972) uses the vernacular of advertising to rewrite understandings of the body, whilst Johanna Stickland’s unconventional compositions fragment the human form, offering unusual viewpoints from which to question the concept of the gaze.

Engaging with notions of history, Tonje Bøe Birkeland’s (b. 1985) series The Characters depicts imaginary figures from the past in expansive landscapes. The series questions the role of women in the history of exploration and travel, positioning powerful characters in a way that redefines established narratives. Comparably, Jocelyn Lee’s (b. 1962) portfolio of photographs echoes tropes and techniques used in 17th century Dutch still-life painting, using the history of art to rewrite tradition whilst presenting a subtle yet powerful statement about the female experience.

The Female Lens: 9 Contemporary Female Photographers runs until 19 May. Find out more here.

1. Cig Harvey, Claire in the Forsythia, 2010.