Body - NOMINEE: Selina Mayer
Some American Women
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With the rise social media, a small, vibrant community has formed of (predominantly) young American women working as freelance, travelling, often nude models for artists and photographers. They use their online presences to showcase their work, promote their travel schedules and connect with others in the community, in a way that wouldn't have been possible only a few years ago. Many are also artists or students, and some are also independent sex workers and adult performers.
However, due to a recent upswing in conservative legislation in the US and elsewhere, the very channels these women utilise to support themselves and each other are becoming increasingly restrictive, putting the very life of the community under threat.
These women often do not fit the "agency standard" imposed on professional models, whether that be through body type, ethnicity or body modification. Many are incredible artists themselves, posing for each other and collaborating. They are women who are reclaiming their bodies and creating a working environment by and for themselves, free from the male dominated executive oversight.
Some American Women began to take shape in the summer of 2014, when a model and I spent six weeks together travelling in the USA. The women I met on that journey became my friends and my collaborators. They invited me into their homes, talked to me about their lives and showed me around their towns. Many I came to know intimately, if only for a moment, and the images I made with them reflect that brief but intense connection.
I've been shooting the series entirely on film as a means to translate these transitory, ephemeral experiences into something tangible; using the laborious, repetitive and meditative nature of the process to reflect upon the images and the stories that made them, within a community that's facing extinction.
I am a British LGBTQ+ visual artist working primarily with analogue photography, specialising in nude portraiture. I studied Fine Art at Central St Martins and continue to live and work in London.
In 2020 I received a Gold Award in the San Francisco Bay International Photo Award, and Honourable Mentions in Photos Des Femmes’ seeingWOMEN Awards, the Monovisions Photography Awards and in the 15th Julia Margaret Cameron Award. In 2019 I was awarded an Artist Residency prize and a Special Mention of the Jury Award in photography from the Mediterranean Contemporary Art Prize. Also in 2019 I was a semi-finalist in the Head On Portrait Prize, obtained 3rd place in Nudes from the Monochrome Photography Awards, received an Honourable Mention at the Tokyo International Foto Awards, and was an official selection for the Imago Lisboa Meeting Point portfolio reviews. In 2018 I was a nominee for the PhotogrVphy Grant. In 2017 I was the subject of the award-winning short documentary A Film On Film by David McNulty. In 2014 I received the Silverprint/Photofusion Black and White Photography Award.
The first nude body I photographed was my own. My self-portraiture is a way for me to explore my own vulnerabilities, and I did this by removing my clothing, my armour. Later, others responded to this vulnerability and began allowing me past their own armour.
By shooting on film my photos become tactile objects, a counterpoint to the incorporeal and ephemeral digital photography that surrounds us every day.