Work by female artists makes up only 3–5% of major permanent collections in the US and Europe. Yet, with Candida Höfer (b. 1944) as recipient of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ current #5WomenArtists campaign, essential steps are being taken to redress the balance in the art world. In a similar way, this year’s edition of Photo London at Somerset House foregrounds a strong female presence, as leading galleries showcase an array of series exploring individual landscapes, with many uncovering what it means to be a woman in today’s world.
For example, Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, offer an all-female line up, featuring Jocelyn Lee, Valérie Belin and Cig Harvey, who is featured in Aesthetica issues 48, 65 and 80. Harvey (b. 1973) takes inspiration from past and personal experiences, capturing moments of uncertainty whilst celebrating universal feelings of love, hope and fear. In a similar way, Julie Blackmon (b. 1966) (Aesthetica Issue 54), of The Photographers’ Gallery, London, combines fantasy and reality to capture the intricacies of everyday domestic experience. Using colour, gesture and space to seduce the imagination, both collections are visually arresting and conceptually challenging.
A strong thematic standpoint also defines the work of Juno Calypso (b. 1989), a young practitioner who has quickly become known for fictional self-portraits. Highlighted by TJ Boulting, London, pieces Subterranean Kitchen (shown above) and A Clone Of Your Own, investigate notions of femininity, using disguise and a signature pink hue to uncover truths about the current female experience in a consumer-led society. Comparably, She Could Have Been A Cowboy, a series by Anja Niemi (b. 1976) of Little Black Gallery, London, offers an imagined narrative – featuring the photographer as its anonymous subject – in which a character is liberated from the constraints of conformity. Another of Niemi’s series, Darlene and Me, is published in Aesthetica Issue 64.
Notions of identity are explored in multiplicity; as The Photographers’ Gallery also brings together pieces by Alma Haser (b. 1989), who creates complex portraits using collage and origami. The images visualise a reality in which human physiognomy has transformed, reflecting the current complex social and political landscape through unsettling aesthetics. Furthermore, Namsa Leuba’s (b. 1982) work, presented digitally by Lensculture, explores shifting themes of self-image, using the bold language of fashion photography to explore the African representation and cultural heritage.
From 17-20 May. Find out more here.
1. Subterranean Kitchen, 2017 © Juno Calypso/ TJ Boulting