Women by Women Photo Project

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Indeed, it is difficult to conceptualize reclaim images of female sensuality as a woman photographing women, so Eydie McConnell concentrates on the technical details, “I wanted the light to be able to enhance the dynamic of the photograph, so that you can not only see the beauty of the female form, but you can see Kelly expressing herself. She’s a sexy beast.”

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“We are defined in this society by the way we look, both men and women. People look at the way we dress or how much skin we show and judge us by that.” So in the photo shoot Kelly Hamilton‘s photo series of Katie Reinman, she sought to express the boldness of female sensuality despite societies attempts to veil it, body and mind.

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7 Responses to Women by Women Photo Project

  1. jaguarpress says:

    Hunter Keil Robinson said…

    These are striking and gorgeous. I would be interested to know if the nonvisibility of Katie’s face in all the photographs is part of the theoretical background of the work.
    10/16/09 2:30 PM
    Michael said…

    The face, the symbol of personality and a person’s spiritual beauty, is veiled, like in certain Islamic societies that ban female sensuality from the public sphere.
    10/16/09 5:00 PM
    Briana Galloway said…

    wicked.
    10/16/09 9:53 PM
    Hunter Keil Robinson said…

    Michael, I see what you’re saying, but I do think that the presence and absence of the female face needs to be taken in its proper context, which is massively asymmetrical between Christian and Islamic cultures. The notions of personal “spiritual beauty” and the emphasis on personality only make sense in a post-Kantian world–the West– with the rise of individualism. And certainly the West’s obsession with the female visage has as much oppressive effect as the obfuscation of that form achieves in some Islamic cultures. Basically I question whether the public display of the body is inherently emancipatory, as in our culture it has led to new varieties of slavery in the form of plastic surgery, body obsession and dysmorphia, and self-hatred. I also would argue we need to resist the dichotomy (famously promoted by the Bush administration) that Western women are radically free, while those in Islamic countries are radically oppressed. The oppression is worldwide, and takes many forms. Look at the incredible rates of life-threatening diseases like anorexia and depression and ask whether women here are really more free than elsewhere. Free to consume, perhaps, but not to live a meaningful life. The woman who undergoes a breast implant surgery–for the sake of the public display of her body– has made a “choice” to the same extent, that, say, a woman in contemporary Iran chooses to wear the veil.
    10/17/09 9:42 AM
    Matt Dupree said…

    Interesting. is the obscurement of the face a device to examine the nuances of beauty, or simply a way of separating the model from her own body? perhaps as a shield against the social stigma of public (albeit electronic) nudity? How would the discussion change if these were male subjects? This is ripe as hell.
    10/18/09 8:56 PM
    Michael Veremans said…

    Public display of the human form is emancipatory in the way that any presenting of frank truth is, often it constitutes art. Women are there bodies are often employed advertisements and entertainment and it is for that reason that reclaiming a feminine identity, reclaiming that sensuality that society masks with marketing. Both men and women are the victim of capitalism’s “signifying” the feminine form, so they only way to liberate it is not to veil it (our pseudo-religious groups in this country take care of that), seizing the public definition of sexuality that has been warped and abused.

    and Matt, the obscuration of the face seems to have a two fold effect, on one hand, it accents the way women’s personalities can be subordinate to societal perception of their physical or sensual self, but on the other hand, it reminds us that there is still a stigma, that there is difference between genders and that we are not absolutely free to express ourselves in this society, even on the internet.

    Stay tuned for projects regarding the exploration and liberation of male sexuality, which has been crippled by machismo and mysogyny.
    10/18/09 11:16 PM

  2. It’s really nice to see women making female nudes the way they I personally feel they are supposed to be done. Obviously we can’t trust men with cameras in front of naked women considering the horrendous way the pornography industry turned out in AMERICA at large. Women have to photograph nude women in a “real” sexy way not because they are lesbian, but simply because they are straight and sometimes can’t trust men with the job.
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful photographs to the artistic world!

  3. Rodallec says:

    I like how the covering or hiding of the face focuses the attention towards a body, much like the porn culture has separated female personality from body.

    As far as a feminist piece I think it could be interpreted as a stance against religious patriarchy, in a sense ironically illustrated by the pious mother of God, a woman conforming to the patriarchy. This gives the idea that the naked woman is the better form, if not for the covering of the face, because the religious patriarchy-abiding woman has a face. Is then the piece saying that woman has a face if she follows religious patriarchy, but not one if she takes control, in this instance by going completely in the opposite direction by uncovering her body, or is it saying that neither of these two stances are the ideal? I think the work is unclear to this point, which might be a point that supports the idea that female identity is unknown because it has always been defined in patriarchy or in relation to the male.

    That the naked woman lies underneath the painting is not a stance of submission, since she is lying comfortably with her legs on the wall, in a quasi-surrender.

    The first photograph is much more interesting in its potential interpretation of a woman being reflected through a mirror, woman defined by woman. But, she is not observing herself., another female, the photographer is, but, is not visible herself. If the photographer would be present in a reflection, the communication between woman and woman might be emphasized. I think there is a powerful stance in another possible interpretation, that she refuses to look at her body to identify herself, but here the problem becomes the female photographer that insists on doing so.

    What I would like to think is that woman is looking at woman through the reflection of woman as articulated by woman. However, I do think that the pieces lend themselves to, perhaps, too many interpretations and therefore dissipate.

    As a body of work, looking at the 4 pictures together, we see a collage of the oppression of the female. In the first piece it is the visual, materialism of the west, with the mirror illustrating the fixation on the self and appearance, in the second the spiritual enthrallment or outright enslavement of the female mind, which is synonymous with materialism’s shaping of the female mind into male ideals of female beauty, perhaps a natural effect of heterosexual drives, which then also makes male beauty be defined by woman. The last pieces illustrate the female captured behind progressive non-identity. In the 3rd we still make out the female form, in the 4th picture the subject might as well be a male.

    The real question here is how female identity is defined, by whom and why? The series raises a lot of issues, but feels incomplete to its point of giving reclaiming female sexuality, and expressing the boldness of it. I think the photos are beautiful, but they might not be achieving their intended purposes.

  4. jaguarpress says:

    As a brief, initial response, One of the points of the work was to establish a sort of identity that doesnt have to be considered in opposition to men. These photos don’t necessarily have a standard of subversion and liberation to live up to, because taking the photos themselves is what is liberatiing

  5. arrozc0nleche says:

    I agree, these pieces do not have to be placed in opposition to a male gaze, but there is a difference between the male/female gazes, which should be communicated in a piece that intends to do that. My only question is, when concentrating on the fact that it is a woman photographing another woman, why is the sensuality focused into the “technical aspects”? Women are just as lusty and carnal as men are, why is our gaze reduced to being simply “technical”?

    It is easy to see that these are beautiful shots. The lighting, composition, and subject is absolutely gorgeous.

  6. michael says:

    THe perception of these photosgraphs is not simply technical, they are myriad, but as a photographer, Eydie spends a lot of time on these details and wanted to discuss them, as a photographer (not necesarily a female photographer).

  7. Justine Schneeweis says:

    Very interesting pieces. I love the first one. Coming from a feminist perspective I am however immediately alerted to the fact that the second piece has the woman still in a typical sexually submissive pose that is not unlikely to be found in any men’s magazine, laying in a pose that accentuates her “good” curves just enough. It would be interesting to see photos of women (perhaps also with dark skin and without the stereotypical body figure that is desired of our culture) in poses that do not so beautifully glorify their figures.

    I dig the project. Would love to see more!

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