Exploring identity in self-portraiture: looking back in time

A few weeks ago I visited the Photographers Gallery in London to see the exhibition Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s which runs till the end of January 2017. Some of the images brought to mind work I did on identity and self-portraiture at college in the late 80s and early 90s. The college was called PCL at the time, now University of Westminster.

I’ve scanned some of the old prints I still have from that period.

The photographs below are examples of work I did concerning identity and the influence of and relationship to my ancestry: A couple of these featured in a previous post on hand coloured photographs.  Amongst the props are an antique sequin shawl that belonged to my late grandmother and which was part of her dowry; an amazing Ikat robe inherited by my late father, presumably from his father, another middle-eastern embroidered dressing gown, a fringed silky patterned middle eastern throw, a Persian carpet, some 80s earrings, and various Latin American percussion instruments and a self-timer cable and trigger. These images were all shot with an analogue camera and predate the selfie era.  Having studied art history and then photography and film I was interested in issues of representation and one of the feminist discourses of the time concerned the male gaze, theorised by Laura Mulvey.  I was influenced by her arguments and some of the photos below try and manifest the idea of woman as artist and image maker as well as having a voice and claiming and returning the gaze.






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Exploring stereotypes of pregnancy and alternative representations of femininity and motherhood:




Capturing my experience of lactation and expressing breast milk via a TV monitor:



Ourselves as our mothers: me and my friend Jacqui strike a pose manifesting our mums.



As my mum would regularly say “you have to suffer to be beautiful”. Here’s an example documenting a painful and costly beauty ritual – hot wax depilation:

The passage of time –  a former self juxtaposed with my then present self:


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