“I don’t whether to be turned on or afraid, but I like it,” is often the default response when viewing Camille Mariet’s work – or at least it is according to her Tinder matches. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily weird, but sometimes I link my Instagram to my Tinder, and when I do, I literally get the same message from every guy,” she explains.
For the 22-year-old LA-based photographer, weird is a currency she’s used to working with. Pooling influence from old advertisements and porn, her cinematic photography depicts a world in which femmes hold the knife, and are more than ready to twist it in the heart of anyone who crosses them.
Mariet’s work is violent – whether it’s an image depicting a go-go boot stomping on a brain-like object, or a woman wielding an axe and dripping in blood — her hysterical women flip the switch on the traditional woman-as-victim trope so ingrained in our psyches when discussing violence in visual culture.
“When I first started heading in this direction, I was really concerned with this idea that women are consistently advised not to confront catcallers on the street because it might escalate and become violent,” she says. “I wondered why a similar thing was not being said to boys to prevent them from catcalling in the first place.”
Uninterested in representing women as passive, or even agreeable, her work challenges the assumption that men hold the power in any and all situations, or that cis-men are the only perpetrators of violence. “Who’s to say a woman being catcalled isn’t going to react violently?”
Despite being grounded in 21st-century socio-political issues, Mariet’s work is set to a backdrop littered with mid-century references. You’d be forgiven for mistaking her work for a film still from a bygone era – an aesthetic she attributes to growing up in a forgotten suburb on the outskirts of the heart of the entertainment industry.
“I’m interested in the midcentury era because it was a time that’s been so regularly glamorised despite its serious social and political issues. Perhaps its issues have been glamorised, too,” she muses. “It was a time where art and design were flourishing but racism and sexism were running rampant. It’s also interesting due to its familiarity – I think the world is in a similar place now.”
Working largely with self-portraiture up until this point, for Mariet, photography has always been a means to work out her own anxieties. But although she sees her work as being “a reflection of my psyche in this real eerie way”, she aims to move away from self-as-subject with her next project, Peep Show. With a plan to produce 100 images centred around the idea of disillusionment and discomfort, Mariet aims to open up her world beyond herself and the camera’s lens.
“I’m really into the idea of getting a viewer to engage with imagery in a way that isn’t purely visual – and hope that my photographs are experienced viscerally. I want viewers to see an image, and experience it in a sensory realm outside of the one that they expect to.”
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