With “Sue”, I wanted to stray from my usual stuff that is almost always of someone or something else so I could get rid of the collaborative effort between subject and photographer. I wanted full control over every aspect, which is why I developed and printed the photos myself in a darkroom as opposed to taking it to a Walgreens or something down the street like I usually do. I guess I set out to explore my understanding of authorship, staging, and female subjectivity. It wasn’t an idea that’s basis was, like, the negation of another idea, I wasn’t thinking about fighting some essentialized conception of femininity or trying to disregard the ‘male gaze’ (I hate using that phrase). It was more about having some sort of jurisdiction over my identity. Like if I want to be trussed up in male-approved clothes and embellished with make-up to present myself as an object of desire, I can do that. Or if I want to distort my body, blur away anything visually pleasant, and create a grotesque presence, I can do that too. I have the control to be seen as I wish to be seen.
My outward expression of myself is a reflection of my inward perception of myself, which is always changing depending on my mood and circumstances and maybe the weather. It’s something very complicated within girlhood that society seems to want to simplify. I think that lately, ideas of girlhood have been centered on self-love and self-approval, which is totally fine and kind of tight but not always true. Sometimes, part of being a girl is feeling alienated, hating your self, hating your body, and being super fearful. I think with “Sue”, I just wanted to reaffirm some authority over my experience as a girl. It was an attempt to create more autonomy over how I’m perceived–like if I want to be objectified, fetishized, admired or disfigured, hidden, and unseen.
Originally from Iran, self-taught photographer, Gonash Haghshenas, has lived in Houston since 2000 and is currently based in Brooklyn. The 23 year old has only recently discovered her interest in photography and has been exclusively working with film. “Sue” is a series that is very different from her usual work of archival documentation of stories and people in her world, all generally saturated in rich colors.