The Bold Self-Portraits of the Dutch Photographer Hester Scheurwater
Hester Scheurwater's work is sexually explicit and is often experienced as shocking. Using explicit images, she investigates and criticizes the role of women as sex objects and wants to encourage a discussion about our visual culture and the sexualization of society. To achieve the latter, she often places her work in public space. This could be our physical environment, but also online. She was one of the first Dutch artists to gain international fame by promoting her work on Facebook, which did not always go well.
What started as a photo project with a friend to exchange photos of shoes, transformed into an experiment in which Scheurwater took a self-portrait with the iPhone every day and posted it on Facebook: 'My Daily Uploads '. In these photos, Scheurwater is wearing tights without anything underneath. Reason for Facebook and YouTube to boycott her - even with new accounts - because of the sexual content.
Sexualization of Society
For her series Shooting Back (2011) and All I Ever Wanted (2015), Scheurwater posed in front of a mirror and made many of the works with her mobile phone. "These mirrored self-portraits are my way of responding to the imitated and false images in the media that constantly appeal to our imagination. I try to deconstruct the effect of this call with my responses by changing the 'subject-object' relationship, without to become a victim of it yourself.” Using explicit images, she investigates and criticizes the role of women as sex objects and wants to encourage a discussion about our visual culture and the sexualization of society.
Scheurwater responds with her work to the double standard surrounding female sexuality in the media. On the one hand, women should not be too prudish and, on the other hand, appropriating sexuality is seen as immorality. This is in response to social media censorship and how the female body is used for advertising. The idealized image that meets the ideals of beauty has no place in Scheurwater's oeuvre.
Scheurwater trained at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague from 1989 to 1993, where she was taught by the experimental filmmaker Frans Zwartjes. She continued her studies at the Amsterdam University of the Arts, from 1993 to 1995. After her studies, she settled as an artist in The Hague and moved to Rotterdam, where she has lived and worked ever since.
Fig.5. Model Noemi Calzavara
Click HERE for the sensual self-examination of the digital photographer Natacha Merritt
More about Scheurwater can be found on her site
Sources: twitter.com/hesterscheurwat, hesterscheurwater.com, wikipedia.org, galleryviewer.com, eightydaysblack.wordpress.com, mistermotley.com, ©Hester Scheurwater