Vilma Pimenoff: Images of Women

Vilma Pimenoff’s exhibition ’Images of women’ focuses on looking, being looked at, and the gaze as a means of power. The still-life photographs and installation are made with material cut out from womens’ magazines and advertisements; smiling faces, shiny hair, painted nails…

By cutting, folding, and re-photographing this ordinary imagery, the artist creates new images, and also works on the collective mental images related to the subject presented in the image – the woman, and her many roles. When detaching the image from its original context, the advertisement, Pimenoff challenges both the image creator’s intentions, and also its consumer’s (the spectator’s) thoughts. The question here is: Who makes and defines the image of a woman? And who profits from it?

The power structures related to gender are visible in the media in a subtle yet direct way through particular stories and roles. According to semiotics a picture doesn’t lie, but it distorts (Barthes). A kind of distortion happens for example when only a certain type of imagery is continuously presented to the audience, validating and strengthening only the certain ideas about femininity and what is acceptable.

With their bizzarness the artworks in this exhibition are asking for new alternatives to the very narrow roles that women have in traditional and popular stories, for example in films and in advertising. The names of the artworks invite the viewer to imagine a new story for the fictional character in the artwork, a person who smiles and refuses to take seriously the traditional ‘pretty’ and ‘nice’ roles commonly reserved for women.

Vilma Pimenoff (b. 1980) often works with everyday objects and imagery from popular culture, and uses them as material to study different cultural conventions, their meaning, and the way the meaning is formed. Her artworks deal with how we understand the world around us through signs and symbols. By placing an object out of its assumed context, or altering its size, it can perhaps be seen in a new way. When presenting the familiar in an unexpected way, she questions the myths and stereotypes that the existing popular imagery represents and fortifies.

Vilma Pimenoff’s works have been shown at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, Moscow Multimedia Art Museum, Circulation(s) photography festival at Centquatre in Paris, and as giant prints on the walls of the Paris metro, as well as in galleries in Europe. She has received the Edit -editorial photographer of the year -prize for her work for the finnish Image -magazine.

Vilma Pimenoff holds a master’s degree in photography (LCC, University of the Arts London), and she lives and works currently in Helsinki.