research seminar: history of photography

Representations of Girls in Contemporary Art Photography

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

17.30, Research Forum South Room

front cover of 'Girls! Girls! Girls!' with image of girls in blue summer dressesand yellow aprons in a green grassy field

Speaker(s): Harriet Riches (Kingston University) and Lucy Soutter (Royal College of Art)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Alexandra Moschovi (, Julian Stallabrass ( or Catherine Grant (

This seminar celebrates the launch of the publication Girls! Girls! Girls! in contemporary art, edited by Catherine Grant and Lori Waxman. The two speakers will present research on the representation of girlhood in contemporary art photography, with an introduction by one of the editors of the book, Catherine Grant. The publication brings together a diverse range of writers on girlhood as a site of contestation, utilised by contemporary women artists in a range of visual media, including a predominance of photography.

Copies of Girls! Girls! Girls! will be available to purchase after the seminar at a special launch price of £15.


Girls! Girls! Girls! in contemporary art

Edited by Catherine Grant and Lori Waxman

Intellect Books, 2011, ISBN 9781841503486, £19.95

Since the 1990s, women artists have led the contemporary art world in the creation of art depicting female adolescence, producing challenging, critically debated, and avidly collected artworks that are driving the current and momentous shift in the perception of women in art. Girls! Girls! Girls! presents essays from established and up-and-coming scholars who address a variety of themes, including narcissism, nostalgia, post-feminism, and fantasy, with the goal of approaching the overarching question of why women artists have turned in such numbers to the subject of girls – and what these artistic explorations signify. Artists discussed include Anna Gaskell, Marlene McCarty, Sue de Beer, Miwa Yanagi, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Collier Schorr and more.

Authors include Carol Mavor, Maud Lavin, Lucy Soutter, Kate Random Love, Taru Elfving, Harriet Riches, Catherine Grant and Lori Waxman.

Girls! Girls! Girls! is the missing link in the new feminist art history/criticism. It engages with that crucial and ambiguous period where children become women. In a way, one might say that girlhood lies at the root of Freud’s question ‘what do women want?’ at the same time that it mystifies this originary moment in women’s history. These texts hit the crucial questions in girl representation, running the whole gamut from charm to hysteria to murder.

– Linda Nochlin, New York University

Tracking the figure of the girl across the fields of contemporary art and film, this book moves effortlessly between cultural criticism, art history, and feminist theory. Be forewarned, however: the girls in contemporary art are anything but docile or well-behaved. From baby butches to bad girls, from reluctant Lolitas to hysterical orphans, these girls make terrific trouble in the lavishly imagined worlds they inhabit. And the women who do that imagining? They are some of the leading artists and filmmakers of our day. And thanks to Girls! Girls! Girls! they get their critical due.

– Richard Meyer, University of Southern California

For more information see,id=4767

The History of Photography research seminar series aims to be a discursive platform for the discussion and dissemination of current research on photography.  From art as photography and early photographic technology to ethnographic photographs and contemporary photography as art, the seminar welcomes contributions from researchers across the board, whether independent or affiliated with museums, galleries, archives, libraries or higher education, and endeavours to provide scholars with a challenging opportunity to present work in progress and test out new ideas.

The seminars usually take place once a term, on Wednesday evenings at 5.30pm in the Research Forum. The papers, and formal discussion, are followed by informal discussion over a glass of wine.

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