July 13, 2020
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The Company Of Women

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The Company Of Women
Compared to women, I have always found the company of men to be tedious and boring. Because women, as Susan Sontag says, unlike men are a work in progress. And as endorsed by this special 'Stree' issue, a work in progress is always more interesting, more compelling, more dynamic and unpredictable, and more wrought with tension and contradictions, promise and possibilities, than its supposedly resolved, and therefore static, counterpart. I mean, whoever heard of a special issue of a magazine dedicated to men?

So from the time I started pointing a camera at people, the gender bias was inevitable. But was it possible to do a photographic project on the subject of women, based purely on the "interestingness" of the subject? After all, women have been the subject of photographic representation for a couple of hundred years but only as models of a male-defined idea of beauty. And, therefore, to photograph women who do not conform to that stereotype seems almost misogynistic in approach. Men are generally seen, women looked at.

One of the social ironies today is that almost concurrent with the massive growth of women's consciousness and all the talk of emancipation, is a parallel cultural upsurge propagated by the insidious, multi-billion-dollar beauty industry dedicated to keeping that status quo unchanged. Creating in its wake a generation of young (and not so young) women caught between the need to be free from the shackles of patriarchy, and yet to mould their physical selves to fit the male-defined stereotype.

These are the contradictions, paradoxes and complexities that interest me both personally and photographically and compel me to seek the company of women: to know, to try to understand, and to make pictures of.

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