Two weeks ago, our class visited the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum to beef up our image-reading skills. We discussed one set of photographs that happened to consist of various women looking to the right of the camera. We joked that it should be a mini-exhibition called “Women Looking Sideways.” And friends, I have made that exhibition.
Admittedly, it’s on Tumblr, which is not a museum…or is it?
*insert meta moment here*
Whatever it is, you can find it here: http://womenlookingsideways.tumblr.com/
First, some highlights.
On to my methods, if you can call them that.
I only post images of women looking to the right. At first, this filtering felt restrictive, but not anymore. Without it, the page would lose what little uniformity it has. I don’t discriminate based on time period, medium, or location of origin. In the end, the only thing these women have in common is that they’re looking sideways, to the right, at something offscreen, unspecified.
It’s an odd thing to do – making and maintaining this tumblr, I mean. It’s such an arbitrary set of rules that govern what makes it to the page and what doesn’t. There is obviously a bit of satire in this. “Women Looking Sideways” sounds like an exhibit a fancy gallery would put together, or a fetish, maybe, a kink of sorts – “I prefer my women looking sideways.”
Forgive me. I’m a wee bit sick and a wee bit delirious. At a minimum, I’d like to suggest there’s a heavy dose of absurd thinking and whimsy that has gone into this page. And yet I find myself taking it seriously. Each instant of a subject looking sideways is motivated by something unique. In some images, it seems to be an act of defiance – in other images, it seems submissive – in other images, we feel that we have caught the figures before us in the middle of a conversation or other ordinary part of their life. In some images, we can’t see the eyes of the subjects at all. At first, I tried to decide what exactly it might mean to look sideways, but each case is so unique, I hesitate to make a blanket statement.
At any rate, I’ve tried to make the page a bit solemn, insofar as I can make anything solemn – there are many great works of art on display that I’d like to treat with a little respect – but not too much respect. I include celebrities, characters from my favorite movies and TV shows – the eyes looking sideways at the top of the page are the flawless Michelle Obama’s.
I hope you enjoy my lazy attempt at satirical scrapbooking/comical curating. And Tumblr users, you are of course welcome to follow the page. I plan to update it regularly-ish.