"Women's bodies alter spaces; women's bodies carry narratives that force us to come to grips with how we function within a patriarchal society."-Sybil R. Williams
Her Feet Planted Firmly on the Ground features work from six photographers: Ellie Davies, Susi Brister, Christa Blackwood, Jennifer Crane, Naima Green, and Laura Plageman.
50 years after fight for equality in the 60s, we are again seeing a shift in our cultural landscape which is mirrored in contemporary depictions of the landscape. Building on the artwork created in the 60s spurring the discussions of the idea of the Feminist Gaze; these photographers subvert the traditional male-driven, object-subject relationship with the landscape and allow their personal touch to reflect their own self. The awareness of gaze, whether in-camera or from the viewer, allows the artist to actualize their ability to define the landscape for themselves.
Photography as a tool, can act as an agent of change, reflecting back societies traditional roles and circumventing expectations. Historically, landscape photographers featured the female as an object or an allegory—either sexualized or representational, not as an actual person.
Learning from the greats, these artists use traditional techniques as a backbone for their own work and insert their new perspectives into the genre. Blackwood replaces that would-be woman with a red dot in ubiquitous mountain and desert landscapes while Crane features herself in her re-creations of William Notman’s figure-in-the-landscape stereographic images.
The artists comment on the function of a figure in the landscape. Green highlights the black figure, like jewels, in lush, urban landscapes commenting on the history of omission of the black figure in the context of beauty whereas Brister’s landscapes feature her figure intentionally camouflaged, absorbed into the landscape, and shrouded in the absurd.
Conversely, Davies and Plageman’s landscapes are figure-less. Instead they use manipulations to impress their thoughts and perspectives; digitally by overlaying the landscape with vast galaxies or physically by crumpling, creasing, and tearing prints.
The work in this exhibition speaks to more than just gaze but also the historical ideals of landscape photography. Some are non-traditional as digital constructions with manipulations, added representational shapes, or intentionally obscured figures—far from the norm of the pristine landscape. Others are traditional in their presentation methods, the physicality of stereo cards and re-presenting traditional portraiture. All however, build on this collective history and now impart their own distinctions on the genre of landscape photography. Uniting together by creating work that goes against tradition, their collective voices firmly implant the importance of the representation of women from the female perspective in our new, yet familiar cultural landscape.