Anita Selzer has noticed something over the years – a big gap in art about women. Reading Charlotte Jansen’s Girl on Girl: Art and Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze changed that.
“I liked this concept of the female gaze that she was talking about, where women are creating art from a woman’s perspective and experience,” Selzer told The AJN. “And it’s not singular. Every woman has different experiences and different perspectives. So, then I thought, well, maybe I can participate in the conversation and add to it by finding some more creative women like she did and creating another book.”
And that’s exactly what Selzer did with The Female Gaze in Art and Photography, showcasing as is stated in the introduction of the book, “the work of other women artists and photographers from around the world also using a female gaze” while noting that while they are different, “their commonality comes from a female way of feeling, looking and seeing.”
Selzer explained that she has always written about women because she feels there are so many gaps in stories. Saying that she has also loved art, combining the two seemed to make sense.
When asked how she chose the artist and photographers to showcase, Selzer said there were a couple of main conditions. First, they had to be creating images that weren’t sexualising women (like so many artworks by their male counterparts did) and second, she had to feel a connection to their work.
“There had to be something pulling me to their work,” she said, before acknowledging that one thing she loves most about the book is the variety.
“There’s a lot of variety in the book in terms of the art that’s been created, and the perspectives of these women and why they’ve created what they’ve created,” she said.
“There’s very established artists and then some emerging artists. I think it’s important to give them a go as well.”
Selzer acknowledged that there has been a shift in the art world when it comes to women over the past 50 years.
According to the author, there has been a flourishing of women’s art and an uptake of interest in women’s art. While there are still fewer women represented in museums and fewer sales at auctions of art by women, books such as Jansen’s and her own document women’s lives by giving them a sense of what women can actually do.
“They are producing beautiful work and interesting work, and it’s different from the way men do the work,” she said, explaining that in the past, representation of women was often sexualised and goddess-like.
The varied works throughout the book represent the experience of females, males and those who identify as LGBTQ+ but all portrayed through the female gaze.
Works address issues such as love and loss, motherhood, racial identity, migration and the climate crisis.
“In my book, you see women doing all sort of things and represented in many different ways, you see the psychological and the emotional, you see a lot of feeling,” Selzer said.
The Female Gaze in Art and Photography is published by Hardie Grant, $49.99 rrp