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BowlPhotography Birthe Piontek

The changing face of womanhood

This photographer blends past and present images of women to explore the sexual and emotional shift of femininity

What it really is to be a woman has morphed drastically through centuries. The changing physical silhouettes, the very definition of what ‘femininity’ is and gendered stereotypes life and descend.

“Lying Still” is a project that examines the female identity, sexuality and the ever-evolving structure of womanhood. Using original still life, portraits and found press imagery from the 50s and 60s of natural disasters, ‘macabre scenes’, women performing and modelling for the camera, photographer Birthe Piontek aims to illustrate the psychological landscape of being a woman. Being a girl is a collective experience with personal nuances that expose both our inner desires and fears.

“It started out as a visual diary that accompanied me through my daily life, mostly to process and express the things that were going on for me during that time,” explains Piontek. Over time the project grew into an extensive investigation of the self through photography.

Although primarily focused on portrait photography, still lifes and installations became further experiments with the expressions of female identity. “The still lifes are, like in previous projects, an extension of the portraits,” she says. “The images refer to our dreams, to something unknown, an inner landscape of our minds that is hard to point out and put the finger on.”

Having worked on portraits and still life for four years, Piontek discovered found black and white imagery of women, and began including them in her project to explore “a broader statement about womanhood and female identity”. She describes the images as a puzzle, that work together to create a larger image of female expression.

Piontek says: “I worked on Lying Still for five years, trying to find my own language and figure out all the puzzle pieces to complete the picture – experimenting with different ways to say it.”

Check out more of Birthe Piontek's work here