In short

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Eve Arnold, School for non-violence, Virginia, 1960 © Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos
Eve Arnold, School for non-violence, Virginia, 1960 © Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos

In the beginning, everything was simple. The basic purpose of fashion photography was just to show women wearing clothes; but, through the years, this elemental need was transformed into a subtle and complex operation that involved art, talent, technique, psychology and salesmanship. To achieve its goal, fashion photography needed to seduce, to change our vision momentarily.

Fashion photography has never existed in a vacuum. Photographers have continually pushed boundaries and the tension between the artistic and commercial demands have generated great creativity and technical innovation. It has been a platform for experimentation, where photographers could create images that didn’t necessarily conform to any established norms.

In this exhibition Fashion – Blurred Lines: A Matter of Attitude, fashion has become the backdrop for these photographers’ exploration of identity, gender and sexuality rather than ephemeral beauty. These photographers have had the courage and vision to reflect the real social change of the times. That identity can be understood as a kind of social performance an ‘acting out’ is a key assumption of contemporary thought, which takes for granted identity’s essential changeability. Such complexity is perhaps nowhere more fraught than with the subject of sexual identity and gender.

The power of these images is that they deliver cultural statements that reach beyond fashion, they channel broader ideas about personal histories, sexuality and beliefs. They make us look more closely at ourselves.


Diana Edkins

Diana Edkins is a curator specialized in photography. She lives and works in New York, USA.

Fashion: Blurred Lines, A Matter of Attitude
June 4 to 30, 2017
Belfast Photo Festival
Ulster Museum
Botanic Gardens
Belfast, BT9 5AB
Northern Ireland