In this body of work I set out to define and separate the various strands that make up my sense of my own femininity. How does sexuality manifest itself in me and what is the difference between what I feel and the ubiquitous stereotypical mass cultural images that surround me? How conditioned are my responses?
It consists of 22 colour triptychs.
"A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself, whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually." — Ways of Seeing, John Berger, 1972
In this work I set out to define and separate the various strands that make up my sense of my own femininity. How does sexuality manifest itself in me and what is the difference between the images of feminine sexuality and gender that have become stereotypic in our culture and how I feel about myself? How does my reality relate to the cultural ideal? How conditioned are my responses?
I wanted to make pictures that asked questions about what it feels like, to me, to be a woman today. Pictures that explore the influences that have come up through childhood and express my fears that project into the future. In visual terms men have largely defined and constructed media images of sexuality and gender through the various forms of representation in fashion, rock music, cinema, pornography, fine art, religious imagery and advertising, etc. If there is an intuitive natural sexuality within me how is this affected by what is culturally accepted? How do the politics of appearance affect how I express myself? Some constructions of feminism have evolved their own rules about appearance that can be nearly as oppressive as the old stereotypes. Do I fail as a feminist because I am ambivalent about the importance of my appearance? This work is autobiographical and can only represent what I feel are important questions from my viewpoint. Personal definition is central to my work and my perspective is constantly changing.
I cannot pretend that I can answer my own questions. I hope that the pictures I have made will be provocative enough to ask these and more questions in the viewer whilst also asking questions about where we get the images of women that form our thoughts about ourselves.
This work was originally published as a book - “Woman To Woman” by Hexagon Editions in 1990.