You’ll be familiar with the term ‘male gaze’ – a phrase coined by feminist critic in Laura Mulvey in 1975. And unless you’ve been hiding under a large rock for several decades, you will have certainly come into contact with it: think any film, photograph, or TV show that’s made for the male viewer.
But the tide is turning. Be it the internet, accessibility to cameras or simply the introduction of the first front-facing camera (thanks, Apple), a growing number of the photographs we look at on a daily basis are being taken by women. In the last five years, an unprecedented wave of female photographers has taken the art world by storm, grabbing people's attention with their pictures of women (and themselves). This is the central theme of journalist Charlotte Jansen’s new book, Girl on Girl, in which she interviews 40 artists from 17 different countries. The project is pro-women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s solely about feminism. “No one would ever say: ‘oh you’re a man, your work must be comment on masculinity,’” Jansen explains. “Yet it’s almost as if you have to start with that question as a woman. Most women are like: ‘of course I’m a feminist’, that’s obvious, right? But it doesn’t mean everything I do is about that.”
To wit: this isn’t simply about ‘female photography’ (there’s no such thing, Jansen says), but addressing and challenging the ways in which the media write about these women.