Joburg youth culture, challenging porn’s boys’ club, celebrating the power of female friendships, and all hail our ‘imperfect’ bodies
Seattle photographer Ashley Armitage’s Photoshop free images and wise words are always welcome on Dazed. A two finger salute to the people who just can’t seem to get their heads past the fact that women grow hair, come in a range of shapes and sizes and freely bleed on the reg. This past month she shared stretch marks, scars, spots and more with us, explaining, “I create images of the female body because historically these images have been controlled by men. We were always the painted and not the painters. I'm trying to take back what's ours and explore what it means to have a body that has always been defined by a male hand.”
New York-based photographer and director Nadia Bedzhanova shared a very personal project with us this month where she recorded late night texts with her long-distance lover, including shots of her shacked up all alone in a hotel room abroad due to work commitments. Riffing of the idea that longing and loneliness can vanish with the click of a button, she told us, “The theme of an e-generation with their e-relationships interests me a lot. Time and space shrinks, you feel that the person across the ocean is closer to you than a person who is right next to you.”
Breaking down teen bravado on an estate in south London, Sophie Green trailed a group of boys living in Tooting. Capturing a softer side to the young friends, wrapped in sportswear and bathed in afternoon sunlight, she told us, “Britain is full of surprises; there are amazing things happening in every corner of this country, you’ve just got to go out and find it.”
Elevating the selfie into an artform, Michele Bisaillon’s photography features meticulously arranged mirrors amongst a series of everyday props – like flowers and cats – playing with the notion that “nothing is quite what it seems”. Taking inspiration from Labyrinth and Michael Jackson (a winning combination), she told us, “The media is consistently producing digitally altered imagery and in response to that I want to create images that are organic and unedited. My goal is to remind myself and others that there is always something missing from the picture; another side to the story.”
Dream trio Eleanor Hardwick, Rachel Hardwick and Chrissie White team up on their new book Celestial Bodies – the result of a three month long trip around the US, where the artists explored the connection between the female form and the stars, moons and planets. “Hopefully we are opening up the idea of the female body being an essential part of nature, and not as something to be sexualised or objectified, but as an extraordinary, almost alien phenomenon,” Rachel Hardwick told us.
Soweto-born photographer captured Joburg youths growing up amongst the hangover of South Africa’s apartheid. Singing, dancing, kissing, drinking: these striking black and white shots remind us that our experiences of being young are often universal, no matter where in the world you are.
When it comes to porn women are often seen to exist in front of the camera, rather than behind it. Following in the footsteps of pioneers like producer/director Candida Royalle and modern day trailblazers like director Erika Lust, Jacques is the magazine challenging the industry’s boys’ club. An erotic publication for the feminist generation; no retouching, no fake tans, no bleached blonde hair.
Photographer Visvaldas Morkevicius’s out of focus and on the run shots of Vilnius gave us a glimpse into the Lithuanian capital’s party scene. With shots peppered with bloodied knees, smashed windscreens, abandoned party favours, the lensman explained, “If we talk about Vilnius, it’s a town with all the benefits of a capital, so you can find everything here. From parties with five stages in a skate park to an old gay club in the basement with cheap drinks and a blowjob room (funny that everybody just smokes and chats there, I never saw anyone using it for its intended purpose), you can go to goth parties or just drink till 11am at Mars bar. In summer usually there’s up to three music festivals every single weekend, so all parties go out of Vilnius to the woods”.
Female friendships are something of an enigma; powerful connections that can last a lifetime, or, at times, no longer than a week. Last month, French photographer Ophelie Rondeau cast her lens across women of “different colours, shapes and sizes”, resulting in a dreamy series titled The Girls. She told us: "My inspiration comes from my own life and memories, and by random things I see, hear and read everyday. My works reflect my perception of friendship, love and natural beauty in girls I meet."
In the early 80s, photographer Anita Corbin took this image at London’s Blitz Club. For some reason it was unseen until now, but she was kind enough to share it with us on Dazed, along with its story. On the club’s atmosphere she recalled: "You could feel that power as you walked through the doors – London's art, music and fashion scene all rolled into one glorious experience!"