Prue Stent‘s photographs from ‘Pink’ play with femininity, gender politics and colour, her pictures a wonderful commingling of sculpture, installation and photography through which she explores the relationship between femininity and nature, the human form and the landscape.
Pink is a cliché. A derided colour loved by marketing companies to sell us the idea of femininity. A construct that has so deeply ingrained itself into our society that we forget the implications of is crude association. Girl equals pink. Boy equals blue.
As a parent with a young daughter I battle pink everyday; from the dresses to school bags, water bottles to shoes, trinkets to magazines. It’s endless. A war lost before we’ve even started. And its within this context that Stent obliterates the pastel dictator.
Through her use of colour, the human form, the landscape and props she presents us with a forthright exposition. As if she’s reclaiming pink for herself, re-appropriating it, taking it away from the slick marketing executives and inverting it, making it a mark of attrition, a sexually potent symbol of femininity that is strong, dominant and energetic.
It’s a difficult subject matter. A war that will take many battles for pink has amassed many cultural associations will take time to dismantle, destroy, reclaim. Stent is at the start. Her photographs bring fashion and art together to create a distinct aesthetic that lies somewhere between surrealism and portraiture, each image both sexually potent and strangely remote, the body reduced to an object, an organic form, all personality sucked out of it. The woman reduced to an object of desire.
This multi layered approach to photography is what gives these photographs their strength. They refute their own construction; the women posing in pink in these pictures are not representative of the cultural norm rather they’re transformed into its antithesis.
It’s a delicate line that Stent walks along but she creates her images with aplomb, with an energy that is infectious. A joy that you want to embrace. Here’s what she had to say about her work in an interview with backyardopera.com
I become obsessed with certain colours. It was green a while back but at the moment it is pink. I like to challenge myself to work with a colour and then explore the ‘idea’ of the colour. At the moment my focus is on pink and all the many cultural associations there are with pink especially as it relates to precepts of gender identity.
In a lot of my work you will notice that the face of the model is absent or obscured by veils or masks of one sort of another. This symbolises our cultures focus on the female body rather then individuality. The viewer is then left to decode what the work says about the power of feminine sensuality. I also like to juxtapose the natural environment with the female form to magnify themes of poise and strength.