Photographer Hannah Starkey: “All of my work is basically asking women: How’s it going?” | Photography

hAnna Starkey has trained her camera on women every day for 25 years. to her Include pictures Dreaming of girls, pretenders and strict single mothers. Whatever they do, they have a brief radiance that seems to light up their entire environment. These are acts that quietly praise women and how they dwell in public, so in the wake of #MeToo and discussions about women’s safety, it seems like a particularly opportune moment for Hepworth Wakefield to take a survey. “One of the things I’ve realized is that these questions are always relevant,” Starkey says. “They get pushed back, then a critical mass appears again. The woman is really stubborn.”

Although Starkey’s style is similar to street photography, she doesn’t work on the hoof, capturing women who walk their lives. While her images may originate from something she’s seen, the works oscillate between documentary and fiction. Clear fleeting moments are designed, with locations and props carefully chosen. Women include friends and people you approach on the street.

“I couldn’t put a camera in someone’s face: I thought that was really intrusive,” she says. “I needed a system where everyone was happy with the process and wasn’t exploitative. I give someone my card and they go and think about the idea first.”

Starkey established herself with a 1997 postgraduate offer at Imperial College in art, which pioneered the feminine look. In one well-known photograph, a girl stares at herself in the mirror of a fat-filled café, lost in private thoughts; In another case, two revelers crash into an empty bar, secure in each other’s protective orbit. At first, though, she didn’t view women as her subject. “I thought I was talking about the human condition,” she says. “Because my photos only depict women, they were seen as women-specific. There were ghettos, both from photography in the art world and women in society. This became a motivator throughout my career.”

Since then, the photographer’s interests have evolved along with her life. “When I started working, there was a very masculine idea that in order for an artist to be successful you shouldn’t have children,” she says. “It was really weird to think that parenting wouldn’t be such a rich process. What I learn from my two daughters, I go back to my work and vice versa. I never stop looking. I don’t turn off these issues [just] Because I have daughters.”

One of her recurring concerns is a particularly marginalized figure: the single mother. “The mums were a tough call, in terms of topic,” she says. “Not cool or sexy, right there in the women’s department or something! But that’s exactly why I do it.” In Starkey’s photos, mothers are literally pioneers, navigating like urban cowboys through snow, or standing solidly in the sharp-edged concrete jungle, baby on hip.

Portraits of young women will round out the gallery, from those early photographs taken when she was close to the age of her subjects to her latest commissioning from Hepworth, showing girls from Wakefield organized into typical small-town teen hangouts: kebab shops, cinemas, beauty salons. “The project was a natural way to come in and ask, ‘How’s it going? “All of my work is basically asking women, ‘How’s it going?’

The Female Look: Three More Pieces by Hannah Starkey

Untitled, March 2022.
Untitled, March 2022. Photography: Hannah Starkey; Maureen Bali / Tania Bunakdar Gallery

Untitled, 2022
I worked with Starkey Teens in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to create her latest photoshoot. “I wanted to recreate images that are truly empathetic, about the different pleasures of photography and the different concepts of beauty; how you see yourself in the world in a different way.”

Beauty Shop, 2022 (main image)
In this photo, Starkey explores how “women from cradle to grave are chosen by the beauty industry. It’s one of those places where cheap plastic bottles never go out of business. It’s all wrong: empty consumerism, advertising that convinces you you need it.”

Portrait of a young mother in exile, 2013.
Portrait of a young mother in exile, 2013. Photography: Hannah Starkey/Maureen Bally

Portrait of a young mother in exile, 2013
Each of Starkey’s portraits depicting mothers is conceived as a single work, not a series: “I am interested in how one image contains narrative and layers that will keep you there for so long. This depicts a mother in self-exile and the experience of raising a child away from your motherland.”

Untitled, 2020.
Untitled, 2020. Photography: Hannah Starkey

Untitled, 2020
“Sometimes pictures push their way into being and the world presents you with opportunities. I saw this window in Westminster on the way back from a Black Lives Matter walk. Then a few days later this wonderful woman passed by and I got close to her. It was an ‘all in the camera’ picture” [not retouched later]. “

Hannah Starkey in The Hepworth WakefieldAnd the to me April 30.

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