Am I a feminist artist?

Pauline Le Pichon
3 min readApr 6, 2023

I’ve always been a feminist, and many issues have made me want to fight even harder for women’s rights. I mean, we can’t stand idly by when more and more women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends, when abortions are banned and when women are treated like shit in some countries.
Feminists want women to be equal to men. And that’s something I fight for.
I’m also inspired by feminist artists like Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger and Marina Abramovic. I’m a big fan of Virginia Woolf’s books, and I think that even though they were written many years ago, they are still relevant and should be read by everyone.

I chose to write this article because I know that some people consider my work feminist and I don’t know why. So I decided to think about it and this is what I came up with:

I have been taking self-portraits and creating staged photographs with women and men for years.
I think some people tend to consider my work feminist because they probably see it as a certain way of representing women.
It’s not a male gaze. Speaking of which, a man once said to me that the reason I take pictures of women is because I want men to like them. This is one of the worst things I have ever heard. I really hate the idea of seeing women as objects.
Actually, through them and myself, I talk about intimacy, reality, fiction and deceptive appearances.
I’ve never thought about how I represent women, because they are part of my stories, just like the men I work with. I don’t see women in a specific way. They play random characters. They are neither strong nor weak, neither sexy nor repulsive. So, my work isn’t feminist but…

Le Journal, Pauline Le Pichon, 2013–2014

…thinking about it made me realise something: my work has helped me to accept myself. When I was a teenager, I hated who I was. But taking self-portraits has helped me to like the person I am a little bit.
I know that the woman I see in my self-portraits isn’t the real me, as I always end up ‘posing’ even when I want something close to reality. But I think that taking self-portraits has unconsciously been a way to know myself better, explore myself, create artworks and be proud of them. Indeed, when my work started to be selected for exhibitions, I realised I wasn’t as stupid as I thought.

That’s why it would have been the same if I had been a man.
It’s not about my gender, it’s about who I am and how I feel about myself.
I didn’t plan to like myself a little bit more and that’s not what I’m looking for when I create self-portraits. It’s just a positive side effect.
I started taking self-portraits because I was getting interested in photography and was too shy to ask people to pose for me. I still sometimes take self-portraits and you may wonder why: well, I’ve become one of my topics. I study the way I act when I photograph myself and I can relate this study to my artistic statement.

This article may be uninteresting if you’re not familiar with my work.
I generally think of my articles as a diary I share with an audience, so I know that some of the topics discussed may not be relevant to some of you. But if you want, you can take a look at my work and tell me how you see it and whether you consider it feminist. And if you’re an artist, I think it’s always interesting to think about your work from other people’s perspectives.

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Pauline Le Pichon

I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, instructor and writer.