The Gendered Lens explores the ways in which New Zealand women use the camera to conceptualise and frame the world. Milford Galleries curators Vanessa Jones and Lisa Wilkie have brought together works by a selection of New Zealand’s most prominent female photographers to examine the conceptual, aesthetic, and medium-specific concerns that underpin their artistic practices.
Susan Sontag calls photography a polylogue, which is built upon interchangeable points of view (1) and the works in The Gendered Lens illustrate this, investigating social histories, cultural matrices, and the roles of place and time. Some bodies of works do overtly consider the performance and reproduction of gender in the everyday: Christine Webster’s Therapies series examines the societal/historical constructs in which the aging, female body exists and is viewed. Yuki Kihara looks at the intersection of gender with narratives of race and colonisation as she addresses the ways Pasifika bodies and cultures have been - and continue to be - objectified and commodified.
In the juxtaposition of the highly produced portraiture of Lisa Reihana and the intimate social documentary of Ans Westra, the viewer might consider the roles of insider or outsider, and the alternate perspectives of each. Anne Noble’s Bitch in Slippers is simultaneously a commentary about human impact on the environment as well as a consideration of the visibility of the feminine in the traditionally masculine arena of Antarctic exploration. Noble’s works sit beautifully alongside Natalie Robertson’s image of communal food gathering which present an alternate view of male community.
Ann Shelton’s Jane Says series makes visible female knowledges that have been (sometimes violently) subjugated over time. Her presentation of abortifacient plants and herbs is a pointed re-interpretation of the still-life tradition of memento mori, as are the poisonous fungi of Fiona Pardington’s Coprinus Picaceus.
A full length essay by co-curator Lisa Wilkie accompanies the exhibition. Click on the link below to read.