I first met Claire Mallett at a book exposition at Duncan Miller Gallery in Santa Monica, CA and I was pleased to see her photos again the the reception for the Verge photographers three weeks ago at the Duncan Miller gallery on Venice Blvd. Her photos remind me of the work of Ellen von Unwerth.
Claire was born in the UK and she moved to Los Angeles 20 years ago. She studied Photojournalism and Film studies at University in Bristol, England where she received a bachelor’s degree. Claire has been focused on Fine Art projects for the past 5 years and she works with both digital and film formats.
The photographs that Claire showed at the Verge exhibition are from her “Shameless” project. I asked Claire to tell me something about these photographs.
Shameless is a collection of photographs that pay homage to a golden time of movie making in Hollywood known as “Pre-code”. From the advent of talkies until July of 1934 when a strict list of rules came into effect that restricted ‘immoral’ behavior and attitudes in characters portrayed in film.
During the pre-code era females in particular were portrayed in a magnificent manner. They were strong, independent, freethinking women. They took no prisoners and had no holds barred. They ran companies, threw out cheating husbands and sometimes just behaved badly with no apologies. Given that this was the 1930’s and the 19th amendment allowing women to vote was passed a mere 10 years earlier, in 1920, I find these actresses choices incredibly bold and brave. Also considering that, these days, feminism is considered a dirty word, I look to these movie stars for inspiration and strength. When I photograph women naked or semi-nude it is a process of self-empowerment for my models. Today women’s self-image is constantly under attack from heavily distorted imagery in magazines and the media. And so I look to imagery and attitudes of the past to allow ladies feel good about themselves again.
By Jim McKinniss