I have decided to go women’s toilets located in different venues such as bars, pubs, clubs and capture the expression they have while looking at themselves. It was a very healing process for me as I shortly understood that we are all in the same position: each one of us tries to look flawless and beautiful, we judge ourselves and others; and we are never satisfied. It is a work in progress that is feeding off of the pressure of society that is put on us.
Karin Kunzo, a former-film-maker, was born in Slovakia and is now currently living in Cologne, Germany; amateur photographer The idea for making the series of ‘Girl in the Mirror’ originated while I was living in Australia. The amount of importance that women over there put on their image was so significant that in order to come to terms with it, I needed to photograph them.
Portfolio from the Documentaire workshop with Patrick Zachmann, October 2012.
Written review by
Photographer and cofounder at Daylight Publishing
While I have encountered numerous photographic portfolios exploring a similar subject matter (female self‐image as relates to societal expectation), I must say that your images stand out and provide a refreshing counterpoint to much of the self‐indulgent, didactic bodies of work that I have seen in the past, related to this theme.
There is a uniform quality to your photographs, aesthetically and conceptually, that provides the viewer with a tangible “thread” to follow across the group of pictures – this is great. However, I did notice that eight of the ten photographs appear to be taken in the same location (the painted green wooden trim in the background is repeated across most of the photographs) and this was bothersome to me because it raises questions as to how many photographs were produced to achieve this group of pictures? How many locations were utilized? Clearly, because you have utilized the two images produced in different locations, you did, indeed, photograph in more than one place – why, then, are so many of the pictures from the same location?
Needless to say, this is not a major problem but it is something that stood out for me as problematic and distracting so I feel obligated to make a note in this review. Having said that, I am compelled by the cinematic lighting and related sense of narrative that emerges as a result of your compositional and lighting choices – this is fantastic and brings to mind the work of Philip Lorca-‐diCorcia and even Joel Meyerowitz’s urban scenes (I mention Meyerowitz particularly because your work is apparently rooted in “the real,” rather than constructed as tableaux). For me, the image below stands out and represents a turning-‐ point in the portfolio that I believe is worth noting. The slight confrontation that emerges as a result of the composition sets this photograph apart from the others and forces the viewer to encounter the subject of the image in a way that is much more akin to encountering one’s self in the mirror, than is apparent in the other pictures; this is powerful and directly in-‐line with your methodology, as far as I see it.
The photograph references the relationship between subject and photographer TAJ FORER ￼ and I feel that this is a particularly important dynamic to play with in this series – especially, since the women in your pictures are not actresses but, rather, people you encounter in real life, in real places. Are you familiar with Rineke Dijkstra’s video work from the nightclubs? If not, I strongly suggest you spend some time with her video work depicting women (and men) at nightclubs. It is brilliant and extremely relevant to your examination within this series. On a related note: how much of this work is about “coming of age”?
Technically, your pictures are quite beautiful and maintain a clear cohesion and competence that I believe to be vital to any serious body of photographic works. Again, in referencing the cinematic light, I believe the use of this lighting style is very appropriate for this project because you are directly engaging a conversation regarding the way one depicts oneself, versus the perception of others; I can think of fewer places than the cinema and the public/private lives of celebrities, where this dynamic is played-‐out more vividly. There is reality and then there is the false idea of reality, as relates to how we perceive ourselves. Therefore, your use of overtly cinematic lighting and composition is extremely poignant and plays into a complex dynamic of celebrity infiltrating the private / intimate lives of normal citizens; particularly women.
I encourage you to photograph in many more locations and to use the photograph copied above, as a reference of what I perceive to be the most successful and powerful image in this portfolio. I believe you are onto something great here and encourage you to continue exploring this work while perpetually asking yourself what matters most? Then, seek to examine your response to that question through your new pictures…
Please feel free to keep me updated and I look forward to seeing where this project takes you in the months to come.
Kind regards, Taj Forer