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Ways of seeing

Leah Mariani at opening of I Like Pretty Things exhibition

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening of "I like pretty things". For those of you who couldn't make it I would like to share with you an excerpt from John Berger's four part television series Ways of Seeing. It was a big influence on this series of work. It was created in 1972, before the advent of social media and selfies, and yet I feel that it is more relevant today than ever. This quote was the seed for my "I like pretty things" series which is still on until 29 June at the Melbourne City Library.

“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping.

From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman.

She has to survey everything she is and everything she does because how she appears to men, is of crucial importance for what is normally thought of as the success of her life. Her own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another....

One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object - and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”

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