Girl Gaze UK catalogue
To accompany the forthcoming UK leg of the Girl Gaze exhibition at Blast Photo Festival in West Bromwich we have updated the catalogue which will be available at the exhibition.
CURATORIAL NOTE by Iona Fergusson
Girl Gaze: Journeys Through The Punjab & The Black Country, UK is a photographic exploration of the Punjab and diaspora communities in the West Midlands through the voices of young girls and women. The exhibition brings together commissioned work by four women artists: Jocelyn Allen (UK), Andrea Fernandes (India), Jennifer Pattison (UK), and Uzma Mohsin (India).
The photographers were chosen to ensure a diversity of ages, fields of interest, artistic approaches and aesthetic output that give rise to an array of stories that reflect the multiplicity of lived experience for women of British-Punjabi heritage and those living in the Punjab.
Themes that appear in the works are wide-ranging: gender, patriarchy, tradition, culture, memory, identity, place, belonging and difference. The photographers’ projects reveal interesting synergies and equally compelling divergences regarding the complex nature of migration and the connections that exist between diaspora communities and their place of origin.
Jocelyn Allen’s You Will Live In This World As A Daughter is a series of portraits of young girls and women. Behind her playful portrayals is a meaningful enquiry into their visibility within traditionally patriarchal communities. In Jalandhar, she encountered girls who live the sometimes-brutal consequences of entrenched values that privilege boys over girls. In the Black Country, she photographed young British-Punjabi women who, while guided by their parents’ value systems, seek to discover their own position in a society with different customs.
In Panjabi Court Andrea Fernandes offers an insight into the daily lives of native Punjabi women and the diaspora communities who settled in the Black Country. A central theme of her exhibition explores ideas of identity and representation and how culture, tradition, nationality and place impact on the way women from both regions wish to project themselves. Through photographs and text, the viewer is invited to explore Punjab in its unique intersection as a historical landmark and an imagined homeland.
Jennifer Pattison’s interest in magical worlds finds expression in the lori from the Punjab. Rice Pudding Moon & The River of Dreams is inspired by songs depicting Punjab’s rural traditions and a mother’s love for her child. It is a poetic style of magic realism that appears in her images - beautiful and nostalgic. Pattison is interested in how lullabies are passed down through generations of mothers and the role that art can play in keeping them alive. Tradition, and how it defines us, our families and our sense of community is a theme that emerges.
In Love & Other Hurts Uzma Mohsin seeks to inject new life into the personal histories of women of Punjabi and Sikh heritage. She creates a complex and richly layered picture of life in diaspora communities and amongst family members in India. Her stories are both salutary and heartrending as they portray courage, love and friendship as well as acts of violence, racism, intolerance and cruelty.
The exhibits in Girl Gaze paint a layered picture of life for women in the Punjab and the Black Country. They demonstrate the importance women place on family and community but also the positive and negative impact to themselves and their values systems that often comes with migration and assimilation into different cultures.
Equally, the works propose that identity is not defined by place but also by bonds of love and friendship maintained throughout life. Despite the challenges to their autonomy that still exist today, women in both regions continue to negotiate their place in the world. They adapt to their changing circumstances with courage and resilience.
Accompanying them on their journey is an understanding that there is no singular truth about what it is to be a Punjabi or British-Punjabi woman but a multitude of different and imaginative ways to live it.
When: 24 May to 29 June, 2019
Opening times: Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm
Where: British Muslim School, Lodge Road, West Bromwich, B70 8NX