Vogue Italia has played a pivotal role in discovering emerging photographers and models for decades. From the likes of Steven Meisel, to David Bailey, and the delicious Cindy Crawford, they all made their debut on these pages. Less conservative than American Vogue, Vogue Italia has given agency to artists to be more daring and to challenge our preconceptions of fashion. Some argue that this publication has documented women’s liberation and protested traditional views of how women should be portrayed. The problematic part of this thought is that most of the images were captured by men. The “male gaze” was dictating the narrative of this visual liberation and not challenging patriarchy as a whole.
If you don’t like me this way, how about you like me this way?
To broaden this conversation and to celebrate the past 51 years of Vogue Italia, a photo exhibition called The Female Gaze was launched in Milan this past November.
Senior Photo Editor Alessia Glaviano and Editor-in-Chief, Franca Sozzani, chose emerging female photographers to challenge the male gaze and to express what it is to be seen by a woman.
What does a female model present to a female photographer that otherwise wouldn’t be given to a male artist? At the introduction to the show, curators Glaviano and Bardelli Nonino stated “Photography is a field dominated, for years, by a male point of view, which reiterates the paradox whereby women – the subjects and the main recipients of fashion photography – find themselves being subjected to the resulting imagery in a passive role.” Playing this passive role is something that artist Cindy Sherman has challenged for the past two decades, staging herself in traditional roles as a woman but hinting at something seething under the surface. She felt the weight of being accepted by society as a strong woman and decided to play with different roles that were previously accepted. “If you don’t like me this way, how about you like me this way? Or maybe you like this version of me,” says Sherman.
Looking through the Female Gaze exhibited artists, one finds that women aren’t shown as merely sexy mannequins. The Female Gaze shoots back at this narrative and gives a different answer: models are quirky, punchy, beautiful, thin, fat, bold, and of different ethnic origins. Simplicity and traditions are out.
Check out the emerging artist talk: www.vogue.it