Images That Counter Traditional Depictions of Women ~ NYT

In Hannah Starkey’s photographs, women often appear alone doing ordinary activities, but these moments — which neither glorify nor objectify them — are bestowed an unmistakable emotional gravity.



By Jordan G. Teicher


Hannah Starkey knew she was pushing back against expectations when she unveiled a collection of seven images — large, color, constructed photographs exclusively depicting women — at her Royal College of Art graduation exhibition in 1997.

“As a young woman you’re supposed to be in front of the camera, not behind it,” Ms. Starkey said. “You’re kind of always on show to be looked at. I wanted to make photos of women where they weren’t on show, where they weren’t that easily consumed.”

The work quickly got Ms. Starkey a lot of attention. Within two years of her debut, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate collected her work, The Sunday Times and British Vogue gave her assignments, and Maureen Paley began representing her. But detractors took notice, too.

“Maybe because it was of women by a woman, some of the old guard was a bit threatened by it,” she said. “But I don’t take those kinds of things personally. When you’re bringing something new into the world, of course you’re going to piss some people off.”

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