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How the personal remains political in photography today

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There are a startling number of women artists making themselves the subject of their own work today. Many will make it a recurrent theme of their practice; others seem to go through a phase, either early or late on in their careers, where they feature themselves in their work. This might be an inevitable by-product of feminist studies, a subject covered in most art schools. Women artists grapple with theories about the engendered male gaze and attempt to position themselves within it. For young women artists it can almost be a rite of passage through which they must pass to find their own artistic voice. It could simply be due to the resurgence of interest in performance art in contemporary practice that leads so many female artists to use their own bodies as a tool for their work. This article sparked by the Evidence conference at FORMAT 2015 will consider the political implications of this use of the self. Four women artists using photography, all working in the United Kingdom, have been selected: Trish Morrissey, Sian Bonnell, E. J. Major and Melanie Manchot. Their work is taken as a starting point for some thinking around this subject. Each of the artists has been asked to respond to a series of questions and their comments punctuate this text; and I would like to thank them for contributing in this way.
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Keywords: female artists; female body; feminist studies; performance art; photography; self-portrait

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Derby

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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  • Scene is dedicated to a critical examination of space and scenic production. The journal provides an opportunity for dynamic debate, reflection and criticism. With a strong interdisciplinary focus, we welcome articles, interviews, visual essays, reports from conferences and festivals. We want to explore new critical frameworks for the scholarship of creating a scene.
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