Ma father Holger Becken recently told me again this anecdote, which he experienced when he was studying in the Rinke class at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the eighties. One day there was a New York scholarship in the room, which promised the breakthrough, at least for a while. For this scholarship you had to submit, as is still the case, work. For Holger Becken, however, that was unthinkable because he was to become a father in May of the coming year. Theoretically, as a daughter, I was very early involved in the problems that the art market brings with it when it comes to family life and young talent.
The real explosiveness of this situation, however, opens up only by the comment of a fellow campaigner, who remarked full of malice, my father should submit to application but a full diaper. Unfortunately, I can imagine that this situation in a similar course could go on stage today.
Through my father, I was able to feel early on how omnipresent the so-called "Klüngel" permeates the art market. It does not seem without it, right? So I ask myself, what would a democratic art market look like without the grafted-in systems? Is nothing expected of the artists?
Relationships pull the strings without the surface ever getting wind of it. I was already disillusioned after discussing a photo concept with a well-known actor, only to be replaced by a well-known, male photographer. It still seems to be that good names count, not the work itself.
Perhaps these are some of the many unconscious factors that have favored the creation of an artists collective. I am not sure if the foundation was laid in the womb, but I know that it was always important to me to build and maintain networks. An honest communication, giving and taking and above all an exchange. Only through exchange does something new, valuable, reflected become.
We would like to offer this kind of exchange: Female Photographers is an artist collective consisting of currently around 20 photographers from different countries. We are committed to non-hierarchical and non-commercial work, and we would like to publish art books at regular intervals, for which we show suitable exhibitions.
And what about the look when you think about gender roles and relationships? In photography you still see them very often – slim-beautiful female bodies. I photograph them myself, and my portfolio has a whole range of graces and ophelia floating in the water.
But what is it that excites me about these characters? What effect does the nixen mystical figures have? Is it a traditional misconception, a nostalgic ideal of beauty, or is there still a hidden hope for youth, self-actualization and problem-freeness in this codified idealization?
The universal symbol of the female body in art is to be equated with a white sheet of paper. Unwritten, immaculate, ready for reinterpretation. Many artists have used this tool and created visual habits that are rooted in our culture.
The media use a turbo and push the cliché of the woman to the extreme. Nipples are censored, breastfeeding in public is often still a provocation, and one often still has the feeling that the woman is under pressure to be available, beautiful and accessible. A direct contradiction to the contemporary image of women, the MeToo debate and the power attributed to the new women's movements. So what did our viewing habits do with our preferences, or in other words, what did our preferences do with our viewing habits? And why do we fall for this tradition?
Female Photographers wants to get to the bottom of this question in terms of the flood of images that surrounds us every day and evaluates them at the same time. I've teamed up with international photographers to form an independent, self-responsible collective. Female Photographers discusses the bodies of our world from different perspectives.
In our first book titled "Body", we discuss the body image, the body perception and ask us how the female look is created and if it even exists. Haley Morris-Cafiero examines the perception of the body and dedicates itself to the topic Bodyshaming. Our intention is to entertain each other in our work, to complement each other and to comprehensively illustrate our topics. Although we are called Female Photographers, we would like to investigate the heteronormative perception and at the same time critically question: who delivers himself within a photo shoot – and how is the powerful instrument, the camera, used properly? It tempts us to examine how our society deals with nudity.
In her photography Paula Winkler, part of the collective, deals with the question "Who is portrayed by whom for whom?" Winkler is particularly interested in the male act from her own perspective as a heterosexual woman. This view is far less represented than its counterpart: the representation of the female act. Winkler is interested in this imbalance, and she is convinced that this imbalance says something about our understanding of sexuality in society. John Berger once remarked: "In art, woman's nudity is not a function of her sexuality, but of the sexuality of those for whom the image is available."
The photographer Kirsten Becken is a Folkwang graduate. Her portfolio ranges from fashion spreads to portrait photography. She is a member of the artist collective Female Photographers.
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