Q: Tell us a bit about yourself…
A: My name is Vanessa. I’m from south London and I’ve lived here my whole life and right now I’m studying Fashion Promotion and Imaging at UCA as well as working on a number of minor projects on the side.
Q: What inspired and influenced you to start the CamGirl project?
A: I started the CamGirl Project because, well, I like taking selfies. I noticed that one of the images I took looked like the Renaissance painting of the Birth of Venus in the way I was laying and it was a little funny to me. I started finding more paintings typically from about the 1800′s or so and I began comparing them to other people’s selfies. I thought it would be great to hear the opinions of other girls on the Internet. I then started receiving submissions and thoughts from them and it was fantastic.
Q: Can you explain to our readers why you chose paintings from the Renaissance movement in particular to contrast against contemporary nude models?
A: I really love Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and looking at paintings from similar artists and around that time I found more paintings depicting Venus and other women. They’re kind of heavenly and heavily romanticised visions of beauty in women, which was interesting to me.
Q: What was the particular aim of this project? What is the message that you are trying to communicate?
A: At first it was just expressing a curiosity when thinking about the woman in the paintings and why they were painted that way. I even found some of them a little funny, wondering how someone would really look if they posed in those different stances; some of the paintings I came across had really difficult poses to replicate. This project isn’t so much about trying to deliver a message it’s more about exploration. It’s about trying to understand why these paintings of women do not get the same reaction, censorship, and labels of vanity and obsession that pictures of girls on the Internet do; especially pictures that girls have taken of themselves! So it’s been really interesting having women from around the Internet engage with this project and it’s been really insightful listening to different interpretations of it all.
Q: Congratulations on being featured in Rolling stone Italia. What has been the response from both people who have taken part and people who have viewed the project?
A: I was googling the project one day because it’s important for me to see what people think about the subject and it was both really weird and really cool to see that! I get messages that are really negative and some that are about really relevant ideas that are so well articulated. It’s hit and miss, it’s the Internet after all so I just try to be selective while also trying to listen to (some) of the negative comments because whether I like it or not, that type of feedback can also help the project.
Q: You have done something unconventional by manipulating a classical style of art. What were some of the difficulties you encountered?
A: Trying to find the right way to make the project accessible to a lot of different girls was difficult, it still is difficult. This is because there’s always the fear of offending the people you’re trying to reach out to; among others that was the toughest difficulty I encountered.
Q: Female nudity has become a popular topic recently in regards to objectification (example the models in Robin Thicke ‘Blurred Lines’ music video) but as you mentioned on the CamGirl Project website, female nudity has been a subject of art for decades, what are your thoughts on this particular discussion?
A: I really don’t think about that song and music videos of a similar nature much because I personally don’t like them. I think the media control the female image and when we turn the camera on ourselves it’s seen as vain and you get labels like “camwhore”. I don’t think it’s the nudity that shocks people it’s the idea that women control how their image is portrayed!
Q: The CamGirl Project also seems relative to the topic of the popularizing of ‘sexting’ and nude images of girls and women appearing on popular blog sites like Tumblr, why do you feel girls are finding it comfortable being nude on the internet?
A: Again I feel like the media come up with these stories revolving around technology and sexuality, mocking it or demonising it, I think it’s kind of funny. I can’t speak for all women but I know that if you’re comfortable with yourself and learn to shake off the negative stories about “slut shaming” and labeling people as “vain” then you start to feel like nudity isn’t that big of a deal. It’s not bad, it’s not good, it just is and I think more people should respect that.
Q: You mentioned that you are interested in the use of the internet as an expression, what message do you feel the people who have taken part in the ‘CamGirl Project’ are expressing?
A: I’ve gotten messages and submissions from women who have a favorite painting and this is a good outlet for them to express that. Some people like taking selfies and this is again another outlet that turns that hobbie into something productive rather than being made to feel like what you’re doing is shameful, just because you want to take pictures of yourself. I could take a whole bunch of these photos myself and collage them and put them in a sketchbook where they may get forgotten or even lost but the internet is a quicker way to reach a lot of different people and the women who submit their images I think share that same respect for the Internet.
Q: Do you have any future plans for the CamGirl Project?
A: Yeah! I hope to focus on developing more parts of the project that involve publications and installation. There’s so much room for research so it’s always fun working on it.
For more images from Vanessa Omoregie’s Camgrils Project, visit: http://camgirlproject.tumblr.com/