We met 21-year old Claire Ansett who recently put on her first solo exhibition. The exhibition was held in a lock-in gallery which made for an incredibly intimate setting. It began on the 26th of July and ran all the way through till Sunday the 30th.
The recent University of Sussex Graduate told us that the project is based around why people sexualise women at a certain age, particularly in the transition from childhood to teenager years. Claire used highly-sexualised self-portraits of herself and then distorted the body parts which are considered most promiscuous. She wanted to show that what mainstream media portrays as the ideal woman is a joke. By exaggerating these body parts and them layering on top of that images from her childhood she makes a statement about the images we are seeing on social media and in ad campaigns.
The eye contact from her younger self looking out to the viewer is supposed to make them feel uncomfortable. The idea that the image is staring right back at you contributes to what Claire described the exhibition as ‘a peep show’.
When you enter the small dark gallery there is no artwork immediately on display. To view the art you have to go underneath a curtain and get up close and personal with it, as the only thing lighting the images are fairy lights. Claire wanted to do this to make it feel like you’re ‘voyuering’ a sexualised body so although you are in a public setting within the gallery you also have your own private space with the image. This highlights the contrast between what is considered taboo to do in public and what is taboo when you’re alone.
This collection of work has taken Claire since September to create. But she has been doing photography projects for a couple of years. At University, she studied media practice in which she focused on photography and digital media in her final years. Ever since she was a kid she has loved art and tried to incorporate that love into her education.
Claire modestly says she wouldn’t call herself a photographer. In fact she doesn’t really know what she wants to go into. When University was coming to an end she was calling galleries and creative people in the local area because she needed to find a vocation post-university. She got in touch with Beth from the lock-in gallery, and once exchanging her work with, Claire was invited to do the exhibition, which was the last thing she expected. “I am so unbelievably grateful to have this space,” Claire said singing Beth’s praises. “You know after I’d done the project I didn’t really know what to do with it, and she’s really allowed this to happen.”
The bright colours in Nan Goldin’s photographs inspired Claire, along with upcoming photographers from Brighton like Maisie Cousins. Enthusiastically, Claire jumps in to tell me about the photographers work; “Her stuff was really amazing it was these women who ended up taking up the whole frame so you felt a bit intimidated by them.” Although Claire doesn’t see herself as a documentary photographer, and really enjoys portrait photography she prefers to stage her photographs everything from the setting to the costumes portraying how much thought has gone into it.
Claire doesn’t have any upcoming projects but is open to dabbling her toe into other and different things. “Even if it was art direction I’ve always been very interested in that, so even if its not my own photography, but helping other people make theirs and helping out with exhibitions and stuff,” she explained.
We know here at Brighton Journal that we are excited to see what Claire does next.