WILLEMIEKE KARS

In Amsterdam, the city where I live and work, I observe and make pictures with my phone of the young women who photograph each other posing on the streets and bridges. One of them stands next to a canal with an historic building in the background. The pose that she assumes is an exact copy from a fashion magazine; legs in perfect position, head slightly bent to one side, an arm nonchalantly holding one hip. Her friend makes countless digital images with a smartphone. The images they produce are studied and remembered. Through this process of review and adjustment, the women become acutely aware of the movement of their bodies. The images are then posted on social media platforms where everyone now feels they have an audience- and the line between highbrow art and popular culture becomes ever increasingly blurred.

As we go about our daily lives we are constantly exposed to advertising images. Often larger than life, they depict idealised, unrealistic female bodies. Many of these fashion photos are made in sunny Cape Town in South Africa, a favourite location for Western fashion brands to shoot their summer collections, whilst it is still winter in Europe. I spent some weeks walking along the beaches of Cape Town where it was happening all around me. During the day I saw different professional shoots taking place right next to each on the same location. Later, in the twilight of the afternoon, when the sun was set- ting, cast in the famous light in which the commercials are shot, I found at those exact same locations the everyday women who come to pose for one another in glamorous imitation of magazines and social media images. I would approach them and ask them to repeat their actions in front of my mid format camera on tripod. I direct my images, and I would often take these women to a place which I had chosen on the beach - but i’m never ask them to ‘pose’. They choose the way they stand themselves. In this manner, I attempt to accentuate the images of women we see all around us and to reveal how women see themselves from the perspective of our contemporary visual culture.


The backdrop to these shoots, both professional and otherwise, are different beaches in and around Cape Town: Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, Glen Beach, Hout Bay and Bakhoven Beach.


*Work in progress

Using Format