With a recent show-stopping appearance on Gucci’s catwalk among her latest achievements, Petra Collins is possibly one of the most influential female artists of the moment. Her work embraces diversity of girlhood and coming of age, depicting women intimately and honestly has put her at the forefront of forth wave feminism.
The Canadian artist, also well-known for having shot some of the most interesting young women of our time (like her friend Rookie editor Tavi Gevinson), has chosen mental health as the theme for her brand new project, 24 Hour Psycho, currently being shown in a solo exhibition held at Ever Gold [Projects] gallery, in San Francisco, running until April 30.
This new series comprises a selection of intimate portraits of ten girls in moments of emotional distress. Shot on 35mm, the subjects are illuminated in Collins trademark hues which focus on the subjects’ teary eyes. Blown up and slightly faded, the portraits are soft yet brutally powerful.
“These aren’t negative emotions, they are just part of the scope of emotions we should be allowed to feel.”
The projects aim is to celebrate the multiple facets of a girl’s mind, like sadness, anxiety and the constant battle within oneself: all complex feelings that every human experiences. Although according to Collins they are feelings that are particularly hard for a woman to show without being labeled as a psychopath. “Any slight deviation from ‘pleasantness’, and we are labeled as hysterical. When we are angry, sad, depressed, or manic, we are immediately seen as unfeminine, or ugly, or weak” she stated.
The photographer explained that she wanted to reassure young women on the fact that showing vulnerability and distress is okay. The project came from direct experience with depression, a condition that even her mother has experienced way before her. “She grew up bipolar, but it was never diagnosed nor recognised. It was shrugged off like a ‘symptom’ of being female – of her being weak. I also experienced this growing up: I felt that the great pain I experienced was a dramatisation” she told in a interview to Dazed.
Inspired then by a ’24hr Psychic’ neon sign she randomly saw, Collins translated her personal feelings into this extremely intense, colourful and intimate series of images, bringing self-acceptance a step further and showing that sadness doesn’t have to necessarily be a synonym of weakness, it can be a strength.
24 Hour Psycho is on show at Ever Gold [Projects] gallery until April 30