Girls on Film: The Photography of Ilona Szwarc

We love the work of Polish-born, New York-based artist Ilona Szwarc. Her two projects “American Girls” and “Rodeo Girls,” both of which have received worldwide recognition, examine “ how culture and society conditions gender and how it invents childhood.”

With “Rodeo Girls”, Szwarc was interested in capturing rodeo girls “because they seem to have a fundamentally different idea about their femininity. Rodeo girls engage in activities traditionally reserved for men. They possess great physical strength and demonstrate their dominance over animals,’ she told National Geographic magazine. With “American Girl”, the idea was to highlight the phenomenon of the American Girl doll. “Photographically it is a beautiful image; girls with their sculptural representations, their twins, their avatars. I realized that their design embodies contemporary cultural values. They were conceived to be anti-Barbie toys modeled after a body of a nine year old. Each doll can be customized to look exactly like its owner, yet all of them really look the same. American Girl dolls offer an illusion of choice therefore an illusion of individuality,” she told

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All images: copyright Ilona Szwarc


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