aesthetics of the female gaze

By Christelle Saint-Julien

Photographs of girls have an undeniable appeal that have been used and represented under all its forms. Among pictures that retain the attention of the viewer, the series #ophelieandthegirls is one which emanates an authentic feeling of warmth and sensibility in a striking manner.

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The ongoing project, directed by Berlin-based, French photographer, Ophelie Rondeau addresses the secrecy of female friendship through the intimacy of her lens. “I’m a big nostalgic of memories,” explains the photographer, referring to her medium, 35mm film. “I tried digital a couple of times and felt I had to edit the photos so much in order to give them life and emotions. Film just does that naturally.”

In a world where the representation of friendship, especially female friendship, in books, movies and art has been forsaken to the glorification of romance in these mediums, #Ophelieandthegirls is both refreshing and relevant, resulting in something that feels both timeless and unplugged. The project depicts a quiet dance where nobody is watching, similar to the way in which girlfriends often share an exclusive, mysterious and unguarded world, away from the gaze.

Rondeau’s muted aesthetics are also served through fashion, under the thread of duplication, a concept that is central to her style. “I’m obsessed with the concept of repetition, I think everything looks so beautiful when repeated; this obsession definitely influences my work’s aesthetics – and always has,” explains Rondeau who cites Sandy Kim, Lina Scheynius and Guy Bourdin as her fellow favourites. As for her wise eye for fashion, Rondeau plans to expand it outside of the project. “I’m having so much fun styling my shoots, I work closely with a few brands and it’s great being able to use pretty dresses and lingerie. I am looking to bring my style to the fashion commercial world and photograph campaigns that will promote diversity.”

A first photo book, #ophelieandthegirls Volume I was recently launched as a collection of works created in London, where the photographer had lived, until recently. Rondeau is also the mastermind behind Curated By Girls, a platform she co-founded Laetitia Duveau (@itslittlevoice) Rondeau is also the co-founder of Curated by Girls, a female-centered online gallery showcasing the work of upcoming and established artists, from painters to illustrators, photographers and filmmakers. “It’s important for us to give a chance to artists to share their work with like-minded people, not based on who they are but what they do.” The first of quarterly irl art show will be taking place in Berlin this summer. The photographer is also currently on her first solo show and working on a short film and two music videos while also carrying on shooting for #ophelieandthegirls.

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