Fashion photography is changing – as Holly Hay and Shonagh Marshall, co-curators of a new three-part project entitled Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, will attest. In November 2017, the pair held a London exhibition which placed 42 framed photographs and six magazine shoots in a west London space. It called into question both the function of this branch of contemporary image-making and the changing role of the figure in fashion imagery, placing work by Johnny Dufort, Marton Perlaki, Charlie Engman, Brianna Capozzi and others side by side. The show was followed by a specially commissioned film by artist Coco Capitán, Learning to Transcend the Physical Barrier That Owning a Body Implies, examining the respective practices of a choreographer, an artist and the founder of a traditional film-based darkroom, interrogating physical selfhood in all of its guises. This month, they launch the third part – a book created with Self Publish, Be Happy, in which photographers, stylists, editors and set designers respond to ideas about the body in fashion.
When she was a teenager, Ohio-based artist Carmen Winant discovered a collection of photo albums filled with pictures of her mother giving birth to her three children. “It was an amazing and slightly terrifying feeling to witness myself being born [in 1983],” she recalls. In 2016, Winant became a mother herself, and noticing a lack of visual work about the experience of giving birth, was moved to produce her own series. “Though it is so common, there is nothing normal about birth,” she says. “I wanted to create a visual, pictorial language that might contribute towards a greater, and more nuanced, understanding.” The resulting installation at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and the coinciding book, My Birth, incorporate her mother’s photographs of herself giving birth and found imagery of anonymous women undergoing the same experience, as well as a written piece by Winant exploring the shared yet solitary ownership of the experience of birth. Presented chronologically, the images trace the process of labour and birth from the earliest contractions to the breastfeeding of …
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