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Exploring global womxnhood through the lens of female photography

What does it mean to be a womxn?

By Ally Faughnan

There is no singular definition of womanhood and what it means to be a woman for one person can be completely different for another. The concept of ‘global womxnhood‘ was explored in Shado magazine’s latest exhibition, where they handed over the stage to 20 womxn artists to interpret the brief “I am a woman” in their own ways. Through the power of photography, the artists explored what ‘womxnhood’ means for them, spotlighting different experiences from around the world. This created a collection of images that were beautiful, personal, and showcased the incredible talent of the photographers involved.

To celebrate the multifaceted nature of the female identity, we shine a spotlight on some of the amazing womxn photographers who took part in this exhibition.

Alia Romagnoli

“I have always had a complicated relationship with the sentence ‘I am a woman.‘” writes Alia Romangnoli, a freelance photographer and art director who focuses on fashion and portraiture. There is a certain pressure that many womxn feel to associate with a certain idea of womxnhood and Romangnoli’s self-portrait aimed to capture her experiences with femininity and her relationship with self-love while growing up.

Romangnoli reminisces about her graduation, wearing the same sari that she wore on the day at school, and remembers the feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety. However, looking back on this image, the artist can appreciate the work-in-progress nature of self-love and how scrutinising we can all be. From the outside looking in at the image, the photograph radiates beauty, femininity, and confidence, but it is important to highlight what goes on behind closed doors – there is always more than meets the eye.

Mario Washington

Mario Washington is a photographer and social researcher, exploring the effects of regeneration on local communities. For Washington, the concept of womxnhood embraces both her UK upbringing and her Nigerian culture, which she captured through her photography.

Stating “womxnhood is no cheap one size fits all attire,“ the idea of ‘collective experience‘ is something that Washington explored through her work, touching on individual and collective identities of womxnhood. This shows the beautiful uniqueness of every womxn, while also portraying the power of female community around the world.

Karis Beaumont

Karis Beaumont is a multi-hyphenate if you’ve ever seen one; she is a self-taught photographer, director, curator, and documentary maker. Showing first-hand that womxn can be whatever they want to be, her image portrays womxn as more than just a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife.

Societal pressures and norms for womxn have become ingrained in our society, but Beaumont is here to encourage womxn to celebrate their own path. Especially as womxn in the creative industry, it can feel like everyone else is always ahead or doing ‘life’ better than you – we need to support each other and know that we are always good enough. Take Shado mag’s exhibition on global womxnhood as an example of the amazing things womxn can achieve!

Nancy Hurman

Documentary photographer and photojournalist Nancy Hurman took this image of Boby, a trans sex worker and LGBTQ+ activist in Kethmandu, Napal, in 2018. Through this image, Hurman explores ideas of femininity and masculinity, and how the space inhabited by womxn is affected by the performativity of these gender expressions.

Taking a more global and diverse perspective of womxnhood, Hurman explores the different notions of what being a womxn means. Using her privileged position, Hurman helps to tell real womxn’s stories through documentary photography, which is so important in our airbrushed media-saturated world – these womxn deserve to have their voices heard!

Monica Lazano

Raised near the border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monica Lazano is a photographer who documents the experiences of migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers near her home town.

Through her photography, Lazano shows real experiences happening at the border, including a woman and child at the Texas-Mexico border, reaching through the wall to her husband who was deported out of the US. Lazano’s work shows the harsh reality of the situation, which is so important to help start conversations about what is happening around the world, right now.

Sali Mudawi

Photographer Sali Mudawi shares the story of Hibo Wardere, a Somali-born survivor against female genital mutilation. However, Mudawi shows that Wardere isn’t just a survivor, she is also a campaigner against FGM, an author, a public speaker, and a mother.

Through her image, Mudawi captures the strength and beauty of Wardere to remind us of the difficulties many womxn face all over the world. The work feels inspiring and empowering, by showing, as Wardere says, that you can “use your trauma to become better and to better to world.”

Gaining a global perspective of womxnhood from around the world in one exhibition is a huge task but Shado created something that was honest and representative of how global womxnhood is imagined and experienced today. Keep up with what Shado mag are doing and make sure to check out all the other amazing artists involved in the exhibition.

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