Charlotte Jansen - Female Gaze
Updated: May 16, 2019
Charlotte Jansen gave a talk the University of Huddersfield on the Female Gaze. Charlotte wrote a book on female photographers, photographing females called Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze. Both feminists and none feminists were included.
Jansen made some very interesting points about the Female Gaze. Although the work is photographed by a female, the outcome is still going to be seen through a male patriarchal gaze because it is so heavily imprinted on society. Even women, view women, through the Male Gaze and can subconsciously photograph people through this gaze. Jansen believes it is important to establish a Female Gaze, one that is defined and separate from the dominating Male Gaze.
It is difficult where to draw the line of conformity and non-conformity for females to gain exposure as artists because of the patriarchy and the dismissal of women as equivalent human beings.
Jansen gave some technical codes for the production of the Female Gaze: self staging, series, close subjects (no models), self portraiture, hyperfeminine aesthetic and candid natural posture (not conforming to stereotypical female poses). Her talk has made me more conscious of how I photograph and view women. Also, to be aware that even if I do use the Female Gaze codes, society may not understand it because of how it is programmed to see through male eyes.
It was from this talk I recognised my discomfort of photographing other females in a sexual manner, it is because women are never really the controller of the gaze. The Female Gaze codes are all key points to consider when photographing. Especially when we consider work like Juno Calypso and how she conforms out of irony to the hyper-feminine aesthetic, it is so well done that the conformity of it has men believing she is "stupid" and "just as bad as men".
Charlotte showed female photographers working in so many different and interesting ways. It has inspired and reassured me that there is place for a series like mine. The type of work I am currently making would fit into an art practice aimed to be exhibited in galleries, and hopefully as some form as activism shared on social media platforms. Women like Pinar Yolacan, Isabelle Wenzel, Petra Collins and Molly Soda are but a few feminist artists who created interesting and artistic work with an important message.