03 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

… i’ve taken my first page by page tour through Afternoons, by Jenna Westra

… here is what i notice…

… the artist includes photographs of herself throughout and uses a cable release in several of the portraits which marks the portraits as self portraits and identifies her amidst the multiple women who are subjects of photographs in the book…

… thus, one woman in particular, the artist, has prominence in the book as the only individual with a name and a presence that goes beyond studies of form and the feminine… the choice to include herself without such clear identification for the other women is significant and shifts what the book would be without it… yes, the other women are sometimes identified in the title of a picture, all, i presume, are listed at the end… it’s not possible to be certain, as there is a list of names but only as individuals to be thanked, one wonders about these choices…

… keeping the female subjects of the photographs largely unidentified supports the feminine generalities of the book…

… there are full and partial nudes in the book… they are outnumbered by images of women with some kind of clothing on… only one of the nudes1 strikes me as being at all sexual, attractive to the male or female gaze… a woman’s sex potential is not an overt theme of the book, rather, it is feminine form, femininity and an intimate society of women together… it is not to be assumed that the women are lesbians either… they are there, with each other, as a sisterhood… or perhaps, as alter egos, different dimensions, of the artist herself…

… the book is well done, a mixture of black & white and color images, it has a nice pace…

… there are layers of intent and meaning to peel away, more is revealed with each pass through the book…

… a very nice photobook experience…


  1. Not surprisingly, this is one of three images used to represent the book, the idea that sex sells is alive and well, even in a non-profit store dedicated to the work of book artists. To say it promises more than the book delivers is an understatement. [return]

04 Jenna Westra, Afternoons

Jena Westra, from Afternoons

… Brad Feuerhelm gives this book a highest recommendation, stating that it is as near perfect a photobook as could be… i recognize the name of the artist which makes it likely i’ve run across the work before…

In the case Jenna Westra’s Afternoons (Hassla, 2020), several factors within the book suggest a return to the body as an act less of political dialogue, but more as an act of balance. Westra employs gesture and a number of interesting sculptural tactics to create a world where the feminine is embraced without men involved at all and unlike Girl Pictures, the emphasis is not on fantasy, but on reality, collaboration, and intimacy.1

… the book is about the shape and form of women… young women… it feeds my rabbit hole… i ordered it…