Challenging 'girl in the backseat' clichés, photographer Benjamin Alexander Huseby talks subverting sexist stereotypes in his latest Dazed shoot, featuring Annely Bouma
Taken from the Autumn/Winter 2014 issue of Dazed.
It’s a cliché we’re all familiar with. Ever since cars became a part of our everyday experience, they've occupied a mythic place in our cultural consciousness, symbolising freedom and, in the case of the backseat, sexual possibility. The obligatory prop? A woman of course, preferably scantily clad, and never in the driver’s seat. It was this outdated motif that photographer Benjamin Alexander Huseby sought to subvert in a shoot for our last issue. “I wanted to take this old stereotype, a bad sex metaphor, and turn it on its head,” Huseby told us, instead choosing to shoot a girl who was “confident and strong in her own right.” That girl was Annely Bouma. The Dutch model had been working on-and-off for a decade, but it was only last year after an impromptu haircut and a chance encounter with her booker that she decided to go full-time. “When I was 16, I was still living in a bubble,” Bouma admitted – so she's glad to have joined the international game late. “I've studied, I've backpacked for two years and I've lived in different parts of the world already.”
Last season was an international breakthough for her – she walked 25 shows in London, Paris and New York including Margiela, Louis Vuitton and Proenza Schouler (her absolute favourite), where the chaotic, often unpredictable environment is suited to her spontaneous disposition. For Huseby, Bouma’s life experience was significant. “Annely is a woman, not a child,” he explained, “and that’s important to me to be able to develop a real character for a story, one that I can relate to.” In this shoot, Bouma is stranded at the drive-in, but instead of “the female body against the hard phallic steel of the car” – Huseby’s interpretation of the sexy girl bent over vehicle stereotype – the styling by Jacob K mixed the “banal everyday” with “subtle perversion” to challenge the cliché. “It was sporty and tomboyish,” Bouma observed, “really my style.”
Photography Benjamin Alexander Huseby; styling Jacob K; hair Tina Outen at Streeters; make-up Petros Petrohilos at Streeters; model Annely Bouma at Viva London; photographic assistants James Donovan, James Davey; styling assistant Clemence Lobert; hair assistant Lawrence Walker; make-up assistant Vassilis Theotokis; digital operator Dimitri Ramazankhani; production Lock Production, Rep Limited; casting Noah Shelley