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Reflection Topic 3: Reading Photographs

I’ve been aware of the subjectivity inherent in viewing images since I started taking naked portraits in the late 1990s. The notion of “beauty being in the eye of the beholder” applies equally to pornography and many other things. Whilst some have celebrated my work others have called it offensive, on one occasion going so far as reporting me to the police, (in 2001) who found there was no case to answer.

Not only are images readable on a subjective basis (from individual standpoints) but as time goes by, the same photograph can transform, from being accepted and unquestioned, to controversial or even illegal, think of the work of Sally Mann.

I have enjoyed deciphering imagery since being introduced to the idea of it on the BTEC I did in photography from 1996 to 1998. As a consequence I wasn’t really surprised or challenged by much this week. But, interestingly, the topic of reading images is upper most in my mind at the moment as I have embarked on a new series of self-portraits with the working title of double acts, these photographs feature me, naked and playing a passive role and a variety of different women, dressed and playing more active roles. I am making this body of work to celebrate women and in response to how they have been portrayed through much of the history of art, but, I understand I may be accused of creating misogynistic stereotypes and this is giving me cause for concern, not enough to stop the series, but, certainly, enough to continue to interrogate my practice, motivations and starting soon, to take on board any feedback that the work might generate from my peers.

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