In the latest series by Norwegian photographer Anja Niemi, a life lived under the the constraints of conforming to gender roles is examined. The series, which is called She Could Have Been A Cowboy, is on view at Steven Kasher Gallery through April 14. “Every day her fictional character finds herself trapped in the same pink dress, but what she really wants it to be a cowboy, dressed in fringe and leather, riding horses in the Wild West,” explains the press release.
The interplay between these two personas – one locked inside a motel room in a pink dress and the other riding the range in a loose button down and pants – translates into a chase for freedom and fulfillment. The woman in the pink dress is always still, forlornly staring out the window or sitting in bed, perhaps thinking about the life she could have had. The cowboy is constantly moving, dancing, exploring.
But, “The story is not really about being a cowboy,” says Niemi, “It’s about wanting be another.”
To visualize the imaginary world of her character, Niemi felt she had to experience the American West for herself. Traveling alone, dressed as she believed her characters would, Niemi visited national parks, rode a horse on the same field as actor John Wayne, and hiked mountains. Her intent was “to be what her character would have wanted,” states the press release, “unafraid and unaffected by others.”
Anja Niemi: She Could Have Been A Cowboy
Steven Kasher Gallery
Through April 14, 2018
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