After previously studying the Golden Age of Illustration, how it affected photography and women’s image by the creation of ideals of feminine beauty I have built an extremely strong interest and passion for these early years and events. These early times when women fought for their rights and equality and the way society perceived and treated them not only intrigues me, but it perturbs me the most. Hence, I decided to continue my research in the 1920s Jazz Age to study the appearance of a new ideal, the flapper in contrast with the good wife.
Through my research I have identified the work of famous illustrators such as Nell Brinkley, a feminist artist who created The Brinkley Girl defining the flapper as a symbol of freedom for women and John Held Jr., an artist famous for his Life illustrated covers, who defined the flapper image in a satirical manner. At the same time famous fashion magazines such as Vogue started promoting the flapper look as the new fashion in contradiction with magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal, which continued to strongly promote the good wife identity. So, I have decided to conduct my research into studying not only these multiple identities, but also women’s struggles between them.
The initial approach towards the making of images has not been creative or thought of enough, hence the images were plain and were not making a statement. Also, I believe that being focused on the same idea for a good part of the module has not let make a step further and improve the work. However, as I choose to completely change the approach towards the images I consider it being the strongest decision.
Influenced by artists such as Orlan, Martha Rosler, Juno Calypso and Nina Parsons I have created a body of work, through the means of self-portraiture that reflects not only the absurdity of these identities, but women’s struggles, rejection and tiredness of them. Also, by using a bandage to mask my face I am making a statement: this what society does to women, masking the real self. I have also felt that by using self-portraiture it became more personal and it allowed me to make a statement including my own critical response towards the concept itself, which made the body of work stronger.
This body of work consists of 4 images that will be presented as one in the photo booth style. The reason for the photo booth type of image is that the 4 images together support each other and strengthen the work in a sense that it suggests the work being personal, while the images make a statement about the struggle of identities. In order to support this I have also chosen not to frame the work, as a photo booth picture is never framed and if I do it will loose its strength and its meaning. The image has been printed on a large scale, specifically A0 and mounted on MDF. The reason for the A0 size is that each image will be an A3 size, which I consider the perfect size as I don’t want it to invade the audience’s space.
Am I? explores the contradiction to pose questions about the ability of women to create their own identity.