(great) Expectations

Vicky Martin

2018 - 2020

great) Expectations is a series of portrait and still life photographs which explore ideas of conformity to the stereotypical, individual and societal expectations of femininity as well as the portrayal of roles typically perceived as female. Each portrait is proceeded by a correlating still life photograph to further symbolise the themes within the portraits.

The female protagonist in this series searches for a sense of self and belonging through the pursuit of traditional ideals of beauty but in doing so reveals contradictions between her own and society’s expectations of perfection. The still life photographs compound the expectations conveyed in the portraits: the narratives explore the relationship with and attitude towards the idea of beauty - some convey the need to transcend these expectations of femininity, while others explore how such stereotypes enter into conflict with the sense of self and what it means to be female.

In this series I was inspired by the 1950s ideal of femininity and female identity, an era in which women were shaped into becoming a saccharine image of the perfect woman, perfect wife and perfect mother. I wanted to create narratives that combine this era of superficial perfection with the claustrophobic sense of conformity that my protagonist continues to experience even in present day society.

The pursuit of this unattainable ideal of the female identity during the 1950s often in reality, led to women experiencing intense feelings of loneliness and isolation. My intent is to convey these emotions and combine them with conflicting feelings of ambivalence and defiance as my character is overwhelmed with the social pressure to conform to the female ideal.

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