As a new exhibition interrogating the future of the female gaze opens in LA, we speak to Magdalena Wosinska, whose photographs document a male-dominated world
Text by Irina Baconsky
Future Feminine is a new group exhibition navigating the female gaze in 21st century photography – and looking forward to what the future holds. To celebrate the opening at LA’s Fahey Klein Gallery this week, we meet the participating artists – Honey Long and Prue Stent, Magdalena Wosinska, Amanda Charchian and Remy Holwick – to take a closer look at their work.
Magdalena Wosinska is as bold, blunt, and badass as her unnervingly intimate and sincere style of image-making. Her sense of self is electric, and it doesn’t take long to realise that the Poland-born photographer is all but a conformist. “I’ve always been a bit of an outcast, ever since moving to the States as a kid. I didn’t speak English, people would tease me, and I was a complete loner so I felt like I needed to find my tribe,” she says. “That’s how I got into skateboarding which, at that time, was a very tomboyish thing.”
In spite of her male-dominated environment, Wosinska’s sense of belonging was fuelled by her ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude, and a deep desire for self-discovery that led to her wanting to capture the sun-drenched, raw energy of California’s early 90s skate culture through a camera lens. “At first, people were like ‘you’re a chick that skates, that’s weird enough, but now you’re a female photographer?’” Flash forward 20 years, and the 34-year-old LA-based artist’s refusal to be categorised remains unscathed. Her photographic perspective, however, has evolved into something altogether more tender and personal. “My work draws a lot on the experience of being in relationships,” Wosinska explains. “I look closely at human connection and sexuality, and not always from the most flattering angle.”
As part of Future Feminine, a group exhibition exploring the multiplicity of female perspectives in photography at LA's Fahey/Klein Gallery, Wosinska sought to stamp out the cultural pressure women feel to speak on behalf of their gender each time they articulate their own creative identity. “When I’m holding a camera, I don’t see myself as male or female,” she asserts. “I come from the world of skateboarding, I used to play in a metal band for eight years. I don’t have either a feminine or a masculine gaze; this is just my fucking gaze.” Ultimately, what Wosinska is interested in is documenting without artifice the truth and uniqueness of people connecting. “My duty in this lifetime, in this world, is to capture moments in time that will never be repeated again. It’s that simple,” she continues. Her fearless visual instincts push the boundaries of documentary photography by adding an element of storytelling and pure emotion to her frames. “I don’t believe in those peachy clean, images where everything’s always good. That’s not how things are,” she says. “Sometimes things get ugly, people are assholes, and to me it’s not so much about me putting the blame on someone as it is about saying ‘hey, I went through that shit too.’”
In her life as well as her work, Wosinska rejects passivity utterly, so her response when asked about what inspires her may come as a surprise. “Silence” she says, with no reluctance. “I’m the most inspired when my mind is able to catch up with my brain, when I can truly be introspective and question who I am. To me, art is about taking from within and putting out.” When it comes to fine-tuning her aesthetic sensibility, her introspective minimalism persists. “I find the desert to be such an endless source of inspiration,” she concludes. “Immersing yourself into this kind of monochromatic totality is a bit like visual silence.” While Wosinska insists that she would never call herself an artist, the passionate fusion between her mind and her medium begs to defy her.