In 2013, earlier than it was hit by draconian anti-nudity laws, Tumblr was the middle of just about all the things thrilling occurring on the web. A hub of creativity and a haven for intercourse staff and feminine and LGBTQ+ artists alike, it allowed grownup content material to co-exist and thrive alongside extra conventional types of artwork. Out of this fertile setting emerged CamGirls Undertaking, a digital collage collection that invited women on the web to submit their bare selfies to be superimposed onto Renaissance nudes.
The thought of U.Okay.-based artist Sessa Omoregie, the venture has gone by way of numerous manifestations since then (together with IRL exhibitions and a tough copy zine), however what has remained fixed is its dedication to giving the facility again to muses who captured the male creativeness however have been by no means given the chance to regulate how they have been represented.
In mild of the Tumblr nudity ban and its implications for creatives involved with the politics of feminine illustration, Omoregie sat right down to reply our questions concerning the reclamation of feminine company on-line, illustration, and the way her venture pre-empted the Google Arts & Tradition artwork selfie craze.
Courtesy of Camgirls
How would you describe your artwork follow?
I am very a lot a conceptual artistic, invested in storytelling with an all-around strategy to visible artwork and artistic content material.
How has your work developed through the years?
I am all the time in search of new mediums to inform tales and concepts, so I’ve sort of needed to put on plenty of hats principally as a artistic/artwork director. I am undoubtedly extra conscious of the digital local weather we stay in so my work has grow to be much more collaborative, shareable, and palatable I assume.
What are your passions and goals as an artist?
Cinema is a large inspiration for me, I really like the romance of storytelling and I am a copywriter too, so I really like the assembly of phrases and image-making. I feel I am aiming for my tasks and works to be brief type of still-life movies in their very own proper.
When and why did you determine to start out CamGirls Venture? What have been the inspirations behind the venture?
I’ve all the time been in awe of basic work, particularly Renaissance work, so I knew I needed to contribute to that sort of artwork not directly. Nevertheless, I am not a educated painter, so I used to be actually impressed by the mediums I had entry to, which is, in fact, the web. So it actually become a collaborative effort with the group in bringing a brand new perspective to those work. It introduced up a whole lot of themes surrounding physique autonomy, company, picture, and censorship.
You initially began the CamGirls Challenge by way of Tumblr in 2013, how do you are feeling about Tumblr’s nudity ban?
It feels considerably aggressive in the best way they enforced such a blanket ban with out actually excited about their customers. CamGirls began on Tumblr, nevertheless it’s since moved to an internet site, so it feels type of unhappy that it isn’t related to its roots anymore.
“Cam women” is a time period we affiliate with webcam fashions, however, from my understanding, the venture does not essentially concentrate on cam women however is created in collaboration with ladies usually—even when a few of them additionally occur to be cam women within the conventional sense. What prompted you to make use of the title “CamGirls Challenge”?
Yeah, undoubtedly taking that time period from its meant use; I needed to normalize it in a method. But in addition faucet into reversing its use as an insult or derogatory time period for ladies on the web who take pleasure in taking selfies and being in entrance of the digital camera.
The venture juxtaposes ladies’s bare selfies alongside Renaissance artwork; would you say this can be a touch upon feminine company and the methods which ladies are more and more answerable for their very own illustration?
Yeah, for positive. The one distinction between the work and the photographs (in addition to their media) is that the ladies in these photographs captured their very own picture of themselves. So I favored the thought of what would occur if “Venus” had a digital camera; what do these work imply if we have been informed they have been truly self-portraits. I feel it is much more highly effective.
As a digital artist, your follow not solely makes use of the web as a medium but in addition feedback on the web as a medium. The CamGirls undertaking perhaps appears to recommend that the web has democratized artwork; would you agree with this studying?
I really like the thought of democratized artwork, particularly in an business that may really feel very homogenized. I actually benefit from the concept of claiming, like, “Fuck it, I am going to do it myself,” slightly than ready to be validated by establishments. You’ll be able to arrange an Instagram web page as a “gallery” or you’ll be able to crowdsource an exhibition and arrange an artwork collective by way of FaceTime—I feel that is nice.
What are your opinions on the political and aesthetic significance of the selfie?
Properly, truly the purpose is I do not assume it is essential in and of itself, however what’s necessary is illustration and company. I feel the selfie has turn out to be a type of scapegoat for criticizing individuals—particularly ladies—for eager to take possession of this stuff.
Your work has been proven in exhibitions within the likes of London, Copenhagen, and Berlin, and you have additionally launched a zine. What attracts you to those IRL or bodily modes of show alongside having an internet presence?
I feel IRL and URL are complementary mediums, I do not assume the web ought to imply the dying of print, so I am all the time actually excited once I can see my work reside out in each these types.
This challenge can be notably fascinating to many for the best way it appears to have pre-empted the Google Arts & Tradition artwork selfie. Why do you assume we’ve got this fascination with seeing ourselves represented within the artwork of the previous? Do you assume that is to do with illustration per se, or is it extra to do with making a dialogue between our current and the cultures of the previous?
It is actually cool, truly, once I noticed the Google artwork selfie, it stroke a chord in my memory of why I began the undertaking. It is simply actually enjoyable, for the primary time we now have all this know-how and totally different types of mediums to actually be concerned in artwork in ways in which we did not have entry to prior to now. I feel an obsession with illustration may be portrayed as immodest, however I actually assume it is a wholesome obsession that is helpful in making a world the place we do not see the identical varieties of individuals in our artwork and media over and time and again.
It has been highlighted in recent times that the artwork world may be fairly unique and missing in variety. Would you say that CamGirls challenge has labored to fight this in some methods?
I could be my very own critic in saying that, in hindsight, I really feel that the undertaking might have labored more durable at being a bit extra inclusive. However I feel that the thought of it undoubtedly opens up that dialogue about the place totally different individuals and our bodies match into the artwork we see in the present day.
Do you’ve gotten any extra tasks within the pipeline artistically—each relating to work on the CamGirls challenge and your follow extra broadly?
I have been working with collaborators doing workshops and exhibitions, which has been a studying expertise. I am at present engaged on new content material that I really feel higher serves the local weather of the web now, in a post-Tumblr digital local weather. I am actually engaged on rising it as a model, maybe even creating an umbrella the place new tasks reside collectively alongside the CamGirls Undertaking, telling the identical story in several methods. For now, I hope individuals can benefit from the undertaking at Camgirls-Venture.com and on Instagram, the place it is extra curatorial.
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