Phonar: Task 3 – Artist Research (Amy Elkins)

Focused primarily on men, photographer Amy Elkins makes intimate formal portraits through which she explores vulnerability, the nuances of identity, and transitional states. Working in series she has captured college rugby players immediately after a game who are shown to be marked by bruises and cuts in her series “Elegant Violence.


Elkins describes the images in the series as “an extension of my ongoing exploration into masculine identity. In this particular project I am fascinated with rugby, a brutal contact sport rich in tradition, dating back to the 1800’s. I’m interested in the balance between athleticism, modes of violence or aggression and varying degrees of vulnerability within a sport where brutal body contact is fundamental to the game. I am also interested in the history of the game and how it has long been described as both traditional and barbaric, elegant and violent…..Throughout art and photography history, the male gaze is used to explore and portray female sensuality, sexuality, beauty and vulnerability. This portrayal suggests to the audience that women should be seen this way. I am not trying to reverse the role of power that has been assumed by the male gaze. I am simply turning the gaze around a little and exploring the notion that females aren’t the only gender susceptible to fragility.”


The above image is from Elkins series ‘Whilst I am Drawing Breath’. Although there was no artist statement about this series apart from a sentence explaining how it was made whilst on an artist residency in Germany I have interpreted the images in my own way. In my opinion the work shows Elkins personal experiences, her identity, transitory states in her life and the vulnerability that comes along with this. The title “Whilst I am Drawing Breath” also suggests the importance of the current moment; her life the way she sees it at this moment in time and everything that comes with being alive and breathing. The images are very varied and show her travels but also that she has constant thoughts of wanting to be somewhere else, or maybe even be someone else. Even so, she chooses to make images of her life the way it is and about her feelings the way they are. The rest of the series is very dream-like and gives me the feeling of sitting around, staring out a window into nothingness.

Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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