I’m displaying some photographs at the Dark Satanic Mills exhibition this weekend (9th-12th December). There will be two (possibly three) sets on display:
The big Bridgewater picture and book that was my contribution to the Mid-Cheshire college end-of-year exhibition. I’m also hoping to include a set of pictures taken in Ancoats back in June – these have been on Flickr for a while, but it’s the first time they’ll have appeared on a wall (apart from in my house).
Finally, I’m featuring a new set of portraits, taken specifically for this exhibition, called This Is My Face. From the blurb for this set:
This is my face is a kick-back at the convention that ‘flaws’ and ‘blemishes’ in the skin should be covered over and denied. The pressure to conform is especially strong for women, as evidenced by how difficult I have found it to persuade many women to agree to be photographed in this style. And yet there is much beauty in the natural textures of the skin: an endless fascination for the body’s largest organ, the one that suffers the most to protect the rest from the worst that the environment can throw at it. Rather than deny its reality, let us rather relish the amazing job it does and celebrate the scars it bears from a lifetime of service.
It’s interesting how my description of what I was doing has been received by men and by women (I deliberately did not ask fellow photographers). I think every man I spoke to thought it was intriguing and sounded like a good idea. Even those who were in two minds about how they’d look were appreciative of the final result. Also, when I put out a general call for volunteers to pose, only men responded.
When I asked women that I know to pose, there was almost universal refusal (and some reactions of shock that I’d even suggest it). The three that do appear in the set took a lot of persuasion (‘Look, it’s art!’ was, I think, the phrase that sealed it).
Does this split in reaction support my contention? Are societal pressures so strong on women that they continue to succumb to them, even when invited to highlight and comment on them? And how much is it age-related? (I didn’t have a significant sample in that respect.)