Ashley Armitage – Untitled (2015)
There is a lot of work being made by twenty-something-ish women who draw heavily from their own experiences as women in this our fundamentally sexist culture.
I’m constantly amazed at how varied, creative and interesting the better part of it is. There’s Arvida Byström in general and her infamous VICE editorial There Will Be Blood, in particular; Prue Stent’s jaw dropping and frankly unrivaled surrealist meditations on femininity and visual representation also spring to mind.
With such work, you can’t swing a cat without hitting some codified notion of the work as a manifestation of the female gaze–the female gaze being a reaction/response/rejection of Berger’s art historical ‘male gaze’.
The first time I encountered the term it was in reference to the work of Masha Demianova. I flat out don’t think the term applies to her work in the slightest. It’s also used in reference to Petra Collins–personally, I wouldn’t deploy it in her case either; however, I am much less convinced I could argue away the assertion to the point of refuting it.
For me, if you want to talk about a female gaze, someone like Mercedes Esquivel is where you’ll find it.
That being said: I think there’s a way in which it is befitting Armitage’s work even claiming it as a primary impetus for the work is somewhat pretentious. I think there is a way in which her photos are a sort of exercise in photography as a means of curation–since their the prism of her images pervasive themes and motifs in someone like Collins work are zoomed in upon to a microscopic level and are then subsequently replicated.
I feel as if there is a great deal of overlap with someone like Jeff Wall, for example.