In signature monochromatic style, Patricia Voulgaris’ photographs are impactful and empowering
The New York-based photographer talks us through her latest body of work: two new series addressing the difficult theme of violence.
- Ayla Angelos
- 18 December 2020
Creating work can be challenging at the best of times, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. Patricia Voulgaris, a photographer and teacher based in New York, has found it tricky keeping things going at her usual pace. “This slower process is frustrating due to the lack of access to certain materials and locations,” she tells It’s Nice That. “Right now, I am doing the best I can with the materials that I have in my possession.” But even with certain obstacles in her path, she still manages to turn around two fresh projects, The Hunter and Pose Me.
We last heard from Patricia in 2017 when she transfixed us with her artful series, Fragments. Striking and in others parts completely bizarre, Patricia’s compositions were – and still are – like nothing we’d seen before. Making a return, she’s come armed with her signature black and white aesthetic, but this time there’s a stronger focus on narrative. “My style has changed a bit since I last shared my project,” she says, noting how her latest series The Hunter is less stylistically graphic. “The body is highlighted and positioned differently in each image, whereas in Fragments, I was strategically revealing and or hiding specific parts of my body. I suppose that things are seeping out of the shadows now.”
Within The Hunter, Patricia’s photographs are chronicling a story that’s just as dark as their monochromatic tones. Focusing on violence and how perception can influence a person’s actions, the photographer chose to shoot the images in locations where violence typically occurs: the home, in schools and in the workplace. “I collaborated with others and recreated scenarios where the photographer took on the role of the perpetrator and the subject was often portrayed as the victim,” she says.
Rather than signalling to a place of fear, however, Patricia wants The Hunter to evoke feelings of empowerment, safety and understanding when it comes to the meaning behind our actions. Thus, the photos at hand are an attempt to make sense of this triangular relationship between the victim, perpetrator and bystander. “Loss of control and fear played an important role in the dynamic of these images; we cannot control the actions of others, we can only choose how we respond to it.”
There are deep links between the themes found in The Hunter, and those placed Pose Me. Both revolve around the notion of violence which, in relation with Pose Me, takes form in a slightly different manner. An ongoing series in which Patricia invites men over to her apartment, Pose Me saw the photographer begin by asking the men to pose for her – then she’d document their experience. “I relinquish my control to each of the participants and I have no restrictions as to how I am being photographed,” she says. “These images allow myself to see through the eyes of men and or perpetrator.” Proceeding to question the subjects’ relationship to the photographer and thus the photographer’s intentions, Patricia formulated a few subsequent questions as an offshoot of the work.
“Who is this woman and what does she represent? Are these photographs empowering or do they enable the male gaze, and suggest a sexualised way of looking that empowers men and objectifies women?” Thoughtfully seeking to answer these queries, Patricia found emphasis on the fact that women’s bodies have been objectified within the media and in society at large. “Sexual violence,” she notes, “is a consequence of a dehumanised perception of female bodies that aggressors acquire through their exposure and interpretation of objectified body images.” Fascinated by this portrayal of women and how – and most importantly why – the media does as such, is a key focus point to her most recent photographic studies. This is particularly relevant when it comes to stimulating behaviours such as violence, crime and delinquency.
Patricia Voulgaris: The Hunter. (Copyright © Patricia Voulgaris, 2020)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.