Current exhibition is the first group project of the Ukraine Women Photographers Organization. This exhibition represent an idea to gather one hundred women photographers from all over Ukraine in order to visualize what it means to be a woman and your own muse. Is there is something more behind a regular selfie? This project reflects the popular interest in selfies as a successful self representation, and also highlights the popular phenomenon as female art.
100 women submitted images and words about what it means to be your own muse. Can there be deeper meaning behind our selfies?
The goal of the project is to unite women photographers from different cities of Ukraine, as well as to analyze the so-called female art.
Сurator of the project and founder of the Ukrainian Women Photographers – Anna Melnikova. Anna graduated of the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. Now works as a photographer and director. She participated of various competitions and has been exhibited in Europe and Ukraine. Her photographs are in private collections in Holland, Italy, Belgium. Her book “Largo” dedicated to the
study of gender in modern society was represented during the UNSEEN festival in Amsterdam. For the past few years, she has been organizing and conducting master classes both in Europe and in Ukraine. She developed her own study program in the field of visual arts. In Ukraine she collaborated with the Bird in Fligh school (Kiev), Pinchuck art center (Kiev), Karazin National University (Kharkov), Kharkov Academy of Design and Arts (Kharkov). At this moment she is promoting Ukrainian Women Photographers Organization and leads her author’s courses in photography.
Search for the muse becomes for me as search for the sense of freedom. This connection is not always easy to find, it slips out of hands, blurs the shape, hides the face and tomorrow may disappear at all.
Size: 30×45 cm
Work description: Digital printing, photo paper
I was not surrounded by visual arts in my childhood. The only reproduction of the painting we had at home was Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In 2016 I saw her original and felt some disappointment – a crowd of people with smartphones, a few meters to her and glass. I don’t know if it can be called that I saw her, but I was in the same place as her.
Frida Kahlo said that she was her own muse and that she wrote self-portraits because she knew herself best. If the Mona Lisa was in a dress from the 1500s, I am in a t-shirt with the band’s print, where I played. I consider female* self-portraits as a space for empowerment, when you portray yourself and can be alone with yourself.
Size: 29,7 x 42 cm
Work description: Self-portrait
What can be as mundane and interesting in the field of photography as selfies – we take them when we are happy, sad, want to remember a moment or share it. We use them for a utilitarian purpose – from “Mom, I’m OK” to “Doctor, what’s wrong with me?”. As photographers, we testing new ideas, checking the light on ourselves, or when we need a person in the frame, and no one is there, we become that person. Selfies can be a tool for self-knowledge, as well as be part of therapy and psychological work.
For me, taking self-portraits is part of everyday practice, capturing my feelings visually, just as naturally as keeping a diary for someone. For me, the camera at the same time: a mirror and a friend with whom you can be honest, and a way to deal with pain points. But finally all these are variations of communication with yourself, a kind of internal dialogue. When communicating with my “reflection”, I never perceive myself as a muse – I’m more of an interlocutor, companion and fellow traveler.
Size: 29,7 x 42 cm
Work description: Canon satin photo paper 42”
What does it mean for me to be my own muse? To let myself be imperfect. To accept my flaws, do not be afraid and do not be ashamed of them. We used to project ourselves on others. We notice and we fall in love with some things about other people that we love in ourselves. What annoys us in others I usually what we hate about ourselves.
When I take a portrait of someone subconsciously I’m looking for myself in this person. And when I accept my imperfection, when I realize my worth, when I feel love for myself, I can truly love other people and show their beauty through my pictures. That’s why every portrait I take somehow is a self-portrait.
Size: 30 x 50 cm
Work description: Self-portrait. Projections
Burnout. You cannot do everything and be everywhere. How many roles do you play? How do you prioritize? At what point do you start to feel empty?
Size: 40х40 cm (з паспарту)
Work description: collage from series of contact prints, photopaper «Унибром», lighter
In the process of working on the self-portrait, the author proceeded from the inner sensations of two human aspirations – libido and mortido. Pursuit for life and creation and pursuit for death and destruction. These energies can be directed both at other people or at the environment, and at the person himself. But being conscious and sublimated, they are a powerful fuel for creativity. The color red that unites both portraits is a symbol of concentration of energy. Its focus depends on the form and content of the image.
Size: 31×41 cm
Description: archival pigment
Size: 28×42 cm
Description: archival pigment
For me melancholy is not a clinical term, it is a person’s character, psychological type, a description of a person’s identity, the way of thinking, perception of the world, events around. Sometimes melancholy makes you withdraw into yourself, deafening your consciousness with emptiness. I fill the empty areas, thereby revealing the meaning in the frame. In this way, for a moment, I become a part of an alternative space in which melancholy places me.
Name: Melancholy mechanics
Description: High-quality fine art paper
In today’s world, selfies mostly perform the function of representation and exist in the context of the concept of success, youth, and physical perfection.
I’m interested in another aspect of the selfie – self-exploration.
Mobile phone is my favorite photographic tool. It is very close to us and knows too much. Sometimes it serves as a mirror.
Just like any woman looks closely at herself in the mirror, I explore myself with a phone camera, capturing imperfections, traces of time and traumas.
Wrinkles, pores, scars, gray hair, varicose veins: I record everything that is usually carefully hidden. In these traces is my story, my memories and experience.
This is both an interest of the researcher and an attempt to accept changes. Reconciliation with the passage of time through the search for aesthetics in the body with the traces it leaves.
Series name: “Селфі”
Series: 1/10 +2AP
Size: 20×20 cm
Description: Fine Art print, Hahnemuhle archival paper
Name: Please remember that You molded me like clay. Would You now return me to dust?
I always think about death. Realizing the fact that we all are going to die give me power to move and fight my fears.
I was made with clay that became alive. Then, this clay will die. I was made out of clay and will be turned to dust again.
I am Earth. I can create new life too. I am passion, ideas, energy, sex. My body grow, bloom. My body is changing while I am alive. It will continue changing after my death. Therefore, it is dying all the time.
When I die my body will continue changing. They will give chance to another types of life, like bugs and worms, bacterias. Every type of my physical being is creating life.
Conclusion is – everything around is life and is alive. Even death is life.
Name: «Do you want to be fixed?»
Depression is a frozen fear. When you understand this, it gets a little easier. But it all depends on whether you want to end it yourself? Do you want to look into the eyes of fear? Are you ready to meet a secret self person? With the one who did not want to disturb, frighten, strain, interfere. She did not know how to repel aggression and audacity, prevent entering to her personal space. The main thing is to pull back the veil of ignorance, where fears, panic, helplessness are hidden behind a calm facial expression and even a smile. Yes, it is a paradox. When everything inside is torn from pain to loss of control, you are icy on the outside. Emotional exhaustion, overexertion, overestimation, unspokenness, fears that were not understood. All this can kill when get stuck in this ice, which is hard and soulless.
You have to pass this quest. But have you reached the point where the abyss is already? By which you can find yourself and become a muse… I look back. And I understand that it is already a bit fixed. I see myself as emotionally exhausted, as in the photo. I leave it in the grass, in the water, somewhere in nature. It seems to me that this will be better for her, away from the hustle and bustle, people, cars, relationships, human aggression and global sadness. The sun, water, earth will melt the ice, destroy layers of paint, paper and film. And ….. freedom.
This path from reality to the art object is a way of exploring oneself, reproducing sensations, thoughts and bodies in a fictional form, accepting oneself and rejecting parts – rudiments. And time is an important component. It destroys, and the bad also carries into oblivion.
The photo was created as part of a group project of the Ukrainian women photography society to find a muse in oneself. Self-portraits are given to me hard, then I began to analyze why the excitement to explore the essence turned on.
My visual research is based on the realization that I do not feel the muse in myself for one reason – I have a critic. He devalues, sets many limits and taboos, plays the role of a censor. He oppresses the muse.
The pictures were taken on a digital pinhole, because, as much as I wanted to, I did not reach the end point of self-identification, I don’t see myself clearly. Black and white image adds rigor.
Size: 20х20 cm
The face is the most individual part of the human body. But it does not appear immediately: facial muscles develop and over time, like a tree from seed, the human face grows. I tried to show the process of (non) manifestation of a person’s personality with the help of Photoshop prompts, which indicate the highlights in the photos in bright red. Photoshop’s active hint also refers to Pantone’s new red color called Menstruation, which adds femininity to the series.
Name : (O) Highlight clipping warning
Size: 105х70 cm (everyone)
Strong beliefs are a relic of the past. The modern world is so dynamic that “not to change” means to stand still. It means to get stuck at one point, while the points are uncountable. I choose to be different – color or b&w, young or mature, happy or sad – at different times. And I wish we could forget about the concept of «universal standard”, absurd and unappealable in relation to the individual. Inside us, in our life history, there are so many different things, similar and opposite, good and bad, and all these things are manifestations of the universally beautiful thing called Life. I urge women not to be afraid of this spiritual, mental and physical dualism hidden in each of us. Exactly these differences in dynamics construct our uniqueness. And this is what inspires me in myself and others above all.
Name: “Make a Difference”
Size: 45х30 cm
Description: Stereo Vario Print
Trough this self-portrait I explore dissociation. I like the idea of detaching from myself and I am also inspired by Magritte and his role as forerunner to conceptualism and surrealust.
Name: Dissociation and Magritte
Size: 29,7×42 cm
For almost a year it has been very difficult for me to find inspiration not only in myself, but in the whole world. Now I am being treated for a depressive-anxiety disorder and I am learning to find beauty even in such difficult conditions for me. One of the reasons for my depression was not the perception of myself, my body, my femininity. Old traumas prevented me from living a full life. Now I find support in women’s society, in a group of like-minded people, so for me communication with other women is like a breath of fresh air in a strict patriarchal world. It was this state that became the basis for my self-portrait. Everything in my life is very dark now, but bright times will come. And even in the dark I try not to lose myself.
Title: “Self-portrait 1.0”, “Self-portrait 1.1”
Size: 30×40 cm