One of the exhibitions at FotoFest was called “Gods of War” and it featured collaged works consisting of images of death, destruction, and war alongside images of the leaders responsible for propagating the violence.
An interesting tidbit about FotoFest, especially the work housed at the headquarters, is that most of it (perhaps a strong percentage) was created by women. It was very feminine.
If you stop and think about it, this makes a lot of sense. The “Gods of War” as they are-Colombian drug lords, global dictators, political party leaders, South American and Eastern European gun runners, mobsters, even Presidents and Congressmen are predominately male. Taliban? Almost all men. Spanish Inquisition? Male again. When you think about those who propagate violence, it’s really a synonym for the testerone poisoned of the world-male, male, male, male, male. Even serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, sure there have been a few females here and there but, for the most part, it’s a man’s world out there.
When you think about victims of violence, and about those who live in fear from it, only then do you start to include the ladies. Women are more often victimized by violence. The work in these exhibitions was mostly an attempt at showing that world, at telling their story (however “untellable”) from a woman’s point of view. It was, in essence, a feminine response, even when gender neutral.
Sure, there are male victims of violence and female perpetrators but, seeing this exhibit, seeing all that “feminine” work made me stop to re-examine my own approach to photography a little bit.
I’ve been so “soft” and “feminine,” unapologetically, for the past year or so. What if, instead, I were to focus on the “Gods of War?” What if I paid tribute to the male perspective? (What if I pretended to be “testerone poisoned” just for one day?)
Would I be out photographing cars, guns, or bombs? Would I see things in a completely different perspective? Would I even be a photographer at all? Should I even bother trying? Could I even do it if I were to try? (Is it even possible for a woman who’s very “feminine” in her approach to abandon that and get in touch with her “masculine side” as it were?) Should I try to see things from a male perspective to prove I can even think that way? Should I try to take a “male” photograph to see if I can even do it?
By forcing me to examine questions like these, which lead to more questions and not really answers, the “feminine” exhibition at FotoFest was significant.
I’ve been so “feminine” in my photographic approach that, in some ways, I neglected these considerations. Maybe it’s time for me to re-think that a bit.
It can be said that a “pretty” exhibition is one that you enjoy looking at, but a “memorable” one is one that changes you-makes you think and invokes real change in the viewer.
In this way, the “Gods of War” exhibition at FotoFest, I would have to admit, was “pretty memorable,” as I left with a inquisitive response that’s sure to stay with me for quite some time.
Until next time…