Final Major Project: Considering Others – Davis – Eleven Years
Jen Davis challenges traditional expectations of how women are represented in portraits. Images in her project, ‘Eleven Years’, are compelling. Beautifully lit with natural light and a deliberate colour palette, the results are rich yet unpretentious portraits. Davis’ work is of particular interest in relation to my own work, as like me she “was never really comfortable […] in front of the camera” (Salter 2017).
Figure 1: Davis. 2005. Untitled No. 11
‘Eleven Years’ represents a series of self-portraits that Davis created over 11 years. She recorded and explored her own relationship with her body and her weight. The images challenge and reconsider ideas around society’s expectations and standards of body image and self-representation.
Producing the work enabled Davis to consider how society’s expectations personally affected her. By being her own subject, Davis is able to connect with the viewer and start a dialogue about personal appearance and expectations.
Figure 2: Davis. 2006. Steve and I
Her deadpan expression in each image leaves the viewer wondering if she is happy or sad. Even her direct gaze reveals no emotion. This lack of expression leads to an interpretation based on the viewer’s own experiences and expectations. Some will relate to the images and feel empowered; others may be repulsed if their ideal is the skinny models that frequent advertisements and other visual media.
Whatever the viewer feels, Davis has produced images that inspire me to further explore my relationship with my body image and online presentation.
Salter, K. 2013. “Jen Davis interview: The skin I was in”. Telegraph.co.uk[online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/9930597/Jen-Davis-interview-The-skin-I-was-in.html [accessed 25 April 2017].
Figure 1: Davis, J. 2005. Untitled no. 11. Jen Davis [online]. Available at: https://www.jendavisphoto.com/eleven-years/gggztab28cwambl47lp1ssnglpkcvg [accessed 26 April 2018].
Figure 2: Davis, J. 2006. Steve and I. Jen Davis [online]. Available at: https://www.jendavisphoto.com/eleven-years/up3yecxrjodv9q4rfzebxxfm1g6nfs [accessed 26 April 2018].