I’m so pleased to announce that one of my images, entitled “Trapped,” is one of the winners of the European Women’s Lobby “My World: Visions of 21st-Century Feminism” Award.
“Trapped” is a self-portrait inspired by the photographic work of Cindy Sherman & Diane Arbus & by my readings of Judith Butler on the performance/performativity of gender. I’ve always admired Sherman’s work for its challenging of gender roles & Arbus’ work for challenging of beauty ideas & its engagement with the marginalized. Butler’s concept of gender as performance was a revelation to me, & I hoped, with this image, to investigate &/or illustrate that. I chose to wear a mask in the image because of the way that masks symbolize performance. If gender is both performed & performative, then gender roles can be the mask that we may have no choice but to wear. In addition, the more economic & professional gains that women have made, the more stringent the demands on our appearance seem to have become. With the increasing prevalence of eating disorders & depression among teenage girls (who are officially the most depressed demographic in the U.K.) & such a normalization of cosmetic surgery that scholars have called it a feminine moral & cultural imperative, the mask represents the only kind of face women are allowed to show the world – smooth, ageless, indistinguishable, bland.