Hannah Starkey, Kirkgate Towers, (2022) © Hannah Starkey / Courtesy Maureen Paley, London
Hannah Starkey
May 24 – Jul 14, 2024
Maureen Paley
London, UK

Maureen Paley is pleased to present the eighth solo exhibition by Hannah Starkey at the gallery, following her survey exhibition In Real Life at the Hepworth Wakefield, 2022. Her work is currently on display in two Hayward Gallery Touring exhibitions, Acts of Creation: On Art and Motherhood and After the End of History: British Working Class Photography 1989 – 2024, as well as the South London Gallery exhibition Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminisms and the Art of Protest organised in collaboration with the V&A, London.

Starkey’s large-scale photographs engage with how women are represented in contemporary culture. Her portraits capture moments of everyday life and an expanded female experience. Starkey reveals women in moments of private reflection or social interaction that might otherwise go unseen, the large scale of her images offering monumentality to these instances. “You are very aware as a young woman that you are the observed, and you are expected to perform for the eye”, Starkey comments, “we’re conditioned to the point where we observe ourselves being observed, and we operate out of that language, or those dynamics. My work is a way of speaking to women about how you don’t always need to perform for the gaze, that there is more to being female than being seen.”

In her carefully choreographed scenes, Starkey works intimately with the women she photographs, discussing composition and poses with the sitters, continually showing them the image to establish their approval of the work. This is to overcome what she terms “the camera’s consuming eye”, acknowledging the hierarchical potential inherent within the act of photographing someone. Untitled, January 2023 shows young women photographing each other; the work was taken during her collaboration with female students from Wakefield’s CAPA College, an initiative in which Starkey created a space of empathy and joy as a salve to the damage digital manipulation is inflicting on self-perception.

These works stagger the viewer’s access to the women through Starkey’s use of glass and reflections. The subjects are shown through windows and mirrors, a process which forces the eye to slow down in its comprehension of the scene. She observed “I wanted to bring the female form to that state where it is fragmented and broken up… constructing the image so that it was harder to deconstruct, blocking the consuming eye”. In the self-portraits, Starkey appears in the reflection of splintered mirrors, placing herself behind the gaze of the camera lens whilst equally becoming its subject. The act of turning the lens onto herself equally mimes the increasing prevalence and potence of self-representation spurred on by the relentless proliferation of images of ourselves within social media.

Hannah Starkey
May 24 – Jul 14, 2024
Maureen Paley
London, UK

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