What Defines the ‘Female Gaze’? A Traveling Group Exhibition Presents the Work of Three Photographers You Should Know

The Swiss skincare company La Prairie tapped three young photographers for the ambitious exhibition.

Namsa Leuba, Nanihi II (2019). Photo courtesy La Prairie.

The Swiss skincare company La Prairie is collaborating with three up-and-coming female photographers to present a new show themed around the female gaze.

Daniela Droz, Namsa Leuba, and Senta Simond, all graduates of the Lausanne University of Art and Design in Renens, Switzerland, each created a photographic installation interpreting the theme of the exhibition, titled “Eyes In Focus.”

Earlier this week, the traveling show, which has already been presented New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, and in Basel during Art Basel, opened in Seoul at The Shilla Duty Free. Later this week, it will conclude in France.

“We firmly believe that it is essential to support and encourage young artists who are forward-thinking while remaining sensitive to the timelessness of art,” says Greg Prodromides, chief marketing officer at La Prairie, of the exhibition, which celebrates La Prairie’s new Skin Caviar Eye Lift, an anti-aging eye cream launched this summer.

“In making the deliberate choice to work with female artists, we also pay homage to the inimitable quality of the female gaze, interpreted by the perspective of women themselves,” he says. “These artists break the codes of their chosen medium, just as La Prairie continues to break the codes of luxury skincare with unexpected creations.”

Daniela Droz, <i>Resonances I; Resonances II; Resonances III</i> (2019). Photo courtesy La Prairie.

Daniela Droz, Resonances I; Resonances II; Resonances III (2019). Photo courtesy La Prairie.

For Droz, whose series depicts her quest to capture “the ultimate beauty and perfection” of people and objects, the opportunity to collaborate with La Prairie came as a particularly exciting surprise.

“Everything happened unexpectedly,” says the young Swiss photographer, who also teaches photography at Lausanne University. “One day a call came in asking me if I was interested in collaborating with La Prairie on this exhibition project, and of course, an opportunity like this can’t be denied. The theme of eyes was, for me, an interesting starting point to try and get outside my comfort zone and do something new. The challenge for me was to introduce this human notion into my work without directly including it in the image itself.”

For her series, Droz transformed her photographs using mirrored paper to reflect viewers’ gazes back onto themselves. “I wanted to push people to take an emotional look inside themselves and not simply face an emotion presented by a third person or object,” she says. “It’s your gaze, after all, that must generate emotions.”

Leuba, meanwhile, explored the theme through black-and-white portraits of three women who she tasked with thinking of memories that produced particularly poignant emotions. Leuba then juxtaposed the portraits against color-saturated backgrounds to underscore her subjects’ expressions.

The color contrast also nods to Leuba’s bi-cultural Swiss Guinean heritage, which she explores through work focusing on African identities as viewed through the eyes of the West. “In approaching the theme of ‘Eyes in Focus,’ I wanted to illustrate the nature of emotions hidden in us, and that attempt to come through the veil that covers us,” says the artist, who was raised in Switzerland.

Perhaps the most established artist in the group, Leuba has had work published in magazines such as Interview, i-D, and New York, and has had her work exhibited in shows at museums including the Guggenheim Bilbao and Tate London.

Senta Simond, <i>Lucia I; Lucia II; Emma</> (2019). Photo courtesy La Prairie.

Senta Simond, Lucia I; Lucia II; Emma (2019). Photo courtesy La Prairie.

Finally, Simond, whose work was nominated for the 2018 Foam Talent prize, shot a series of close-up portraits of young women who she views as “authentic, natural and unaffected.”

“Each of these women are captured in a moment of intimacy,” Simond says. “I wanted to show multidimensional images of women, rather than reinforcing gender stereotypes. I’m interested in the quieter moments and emotions—vulnerability, anxiety, and melancholy, as well as the more conventional ones, like strength and joy. I really just try to capture sincerity.”

As brands like La Prairie continue to incorporate art into their initiatives, young artists are beginning to take note. “In today’s society, art and luxury are working together more and more,” Droz says. “It’s clear that as an artist, it’s a great opportunity to partner with a major brand because it gives us global visibility that’s difficult to access on our own.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.