Curated by Girls is a new collective that aims to actively get women’s – and men’s – work on an equal playing field. Here, they profile five rising photographers
"Being all about girls is not our priority,” muses photographer Ophelie Rondeau. It might seem like a strange sentiment given that she’s often turned her lens on the notion of girlhood and is also the co-founder of the collective Curated by Girls, alongside artist Laetitia Duveau.
It's not a statement we often hear from female photographers, but being all-inclusive doesn't mean Rondeau is in any way less 'about' female empowerment, or (if she wishes to identify as) a feminist. In fact, there’s no doubt that she’s not onto something as she adds, "There are so many new platforms popping up on the internet these days, by girls for girls, that it feels like it’s becoming more of a fashion than an actual statement.”
Curated by Girls is a place where women happen to make curatorial decisions for the collective but it is by-no-means exclusive only to female-identifying artists and their work. "There is a known problem of inequality between men and women in society, which girls/women are constantly moaning about, yet they are pushing men out of their world by wanting to do all-girls this and all-girls that,” explains Rondeau. "There might be some equality issues in the real world, where women are basically seen as ‘less', but in my opinion there is the same issue growing up in the internet world, where men are the victims.”
Although ‘victims’ might not be the ideal word for me personally, there is truth in the ethos grounding Curated by Girls which is that by curating only all-girl platforms, women might be further perpetuating an uneven ‘playing field’, leading us even further away from the equality that we are all after. As we have seen, feminism is a divisive term that can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. What is truly most important is to find a space that fits you, not a dictionary definition. So while all-girl spaces work for some, for others it might not, or it might not always... and that’s where Curated By Girls comes in.
Alongside their online inclusion of photographers to filmmakers, painters to illustrators, and poets to graphic designers, Curated By Girls will be hosting quarterly IRL art shows and will publish a group book once a year. As they prepare to launch their first submission call out (from 1 May), here Rondeau champions five rising photographers who are already on her radar.
“Andrea’s work is a joy to observe. What makes the impression, in my opinion, is the fact that these are not glamorous or subtle but have attitude in both its subjects and its messages. The sets give me a sense of confidence of character, the unknowns of sass. Look at the photograph of the young man, a seemingly ordinary guy, as opposed to the hyper-stylised and sexualised facade of which GQ magazine would have you believe a man should be. This is a fantastic statement in itself, that we are beautiful as we are ; why do we need to see the male model with perfect cheek structure and dapper clothes, posing relentlessly in coolness at every movement and turn. For me the attraction is the honesty, realism and authenticity, with an unflinching look at regularity within the common place environment. Which in turn only questions our perception of what we think of men’s image and exposes us to a more accepting perspective of how we should see others. It is refreshing and inspiring to see young artists like Granera wanting to be inclusive of all genders and ethnicities. And although we have seemingly prioritised the devaluation of female body image for a more realistic one, we must also do so with our expectations of what a man should be too. The coin is not one-sided.”
“These works make a beautiful and saddening story. They are emotionally charged with a sense of intimacy and privacy. As if we were spying on something we should not see, like the extracts of a lovers momentary fulfilment, in a cluster of hidden but not forgotten memories. Jordan’s view of microscopic observations is truly a level above, not only is this a male centred position, which I feel transcends to a much deeper level but in context becomes genderless and nothing more than a raw look into an “individual” heart of longing, liberation and contempt. A refreshing insight and a great feat to accomplish. Definitely one to watch.”
“What struck me with Bianca’s work, firstly, is the fact it does not only revolve around the female form. One of the reasons I started this platform was to curate works that represent all genders. I found myself oversaturated with works of ‘Girls By Girls’ with the sole focus on the female gender and its apparent soft touch fourth wave feminism. I really related to what Bianca was portraying and representing, her work is subtle to the eyes with a clear message of underlying emotions. Her backgrounds themselves are not extravagant in context to her foreground subjects, down to the clothes they are wearing. Even when the subject is blended as such, it is the nuance of their emotions that intrigues me most. Rather than getting distracted with this idea of natural girls doing natural things in a contrived context of a photoshoot, it is the characters who are being shown that draws me in, their captured complex mindsets coupled with a simplicity of presentation. Valle says, 'I do believe women should be what they want and accept that they are who they are so I don’t try and change them, or any of the subjects in my photos'."
“Firstly, what made us choose Maria Marrone’s work is that it is visually captivating from such an instantaneous perception. Other works we had chosen were for very specific reasons, be it their subtlety or their detailed emotional connection, but here we saw this upfront kind of “ snippety” feel – like these were stills from moving images or moments out of an indie movie that is on a must-see list. They have such a broad range of emotions from subjects or characters that are slowed down but would otherwise be fast paced. Secondly, the characterisation of these subjects is very blank at the same time as being interesting by nature, the famous debate of why is there something rather than nothing, creates its own intrigue, which we feel Maria captures perfectly. Instead of the moments of rawness and vulnerability, these images portray the notion of just being, which is a fascinating concept to explore.”
“Stefanie’s work was extremely exciting and important for us to publish, not only for its visual aspect - with some of these images that could have been ripped right out of a Wes Anderson or Sofia Coppola movie – but also for its contextual showcasing. With such a fine line between amateur and professional these days, the ‘citizen journalist’ is one of great debate, as the effects on a societal level are vastly different. Although there is a sense of ownership and outcome within the ordinary public or amateur photographer and the freedom of expression, it can also be and has been an oversaturated one too, culminating in a potion of imagery that is defined by our personal habits and contextualised in modern technology.
The difference and the importance of these images and artists like Stefanie are that the results are not only observational, honest and profound but are rooted in a real world issue. Schulz’s work is one of the core reasons we started this platform, as the importance of these images not only display a humble normality to the extreme and often overlooked situations, it makes us see the importance of life amongst the noise. The images themselves speak louder than we can ever describe. In an age when celebrity culture is dominating our mindset, it is not only holistically important but refreshingly satisfying to see work like this being engaged with and not just limited to the newspaper format and demographic.”