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Maisie Willoughby: Girl on Girl

Work / Photography

Photographer Maisie Willoughby explores nudity and the female gaze in NSFW exhibition, Girl on Girl

In August, i-D magazine published their female gaze issue. Fronted by freckled model turned Gurls Talk activist Adwoa Aboah and shot exclusively by female photographers, the issue sought to pull cameras out of the hands of heterosexual males and present readers with a different way of looking.

Laura Mulvey, in her cult 1975 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema proposed that the male gaze — the masculine lens through which visual arts and literature paint women and the world — is built from three different perspectives. First, the photographer or person behind the camera, secondly the characters in the scene, and finally the spectator. By commissioning an all-female cast of photographers, i-D attempted to disrupt the bored patriarchal gaze and replace it with something more potent.

Putting the female gaze to the test by adding a liberal dose of nudity comes Maisie Willoughby, a London-based photographer and creative producer at ad agency Wieden + Kennedy. Maisie has spent the last ten years photographing women “in various states of undress”.

“I began the project in 1996 as little more than a hobby,” Maisie explains. “However as I have continued to shoot — around 30 women in total — my understanding and interpretation of the female gaze has fluxed, particularly when addressing female sexuality and nudity.”

The resulting project, titled Girl on Girl will launch tonight with an exhibition at Mother London and a discussion where Alex Holder (former ECD at Anomaly turned acting content director at Elle), Ione Gamble of Polyester Zine, photographer David Abrahams and model Tia Ward will “attempt to answer a few of these questions surrounding the female gaze and female nudity”. Boys beware.

Girl on Girl is on at Mother, 10 Redchurch Street, until Friday 25 November.

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Maisie Willoughby: Girl on Girl