Moira Lovell – The After School Club
The After School Club series shows young women taken from school-themed nightclubs and returned, still wearing their fancy dress, to a new but not totally irrelevant environment.
The school uniform, as worn in the clubs, offers up a sexualised and infantilised display of unthreatening female sexuality to the male gaze. Within the education system it aims to provide a homogeneous identity to prevent competition between pupils. Moira Lovell mixes the two up by returning the clubbers to their secondary school gates whilst still in their revellers garb. ‘Raunch culture’ is spliced with the playground as Loveil’s photographs abruptly report on how little seems to remain of the schoolyard’s openness and curiosity. Yet the suggestion is also that school’s as ‘disciplinary” institutions have in some way, as part of today’s society, created obedient adherents to the male gaze.
Lovell doesn’t direct her models; she lets them perform, as they want in front of the camera. There is a certain uniformity of pose, which is balanced by the uniformity of composition; frontal and centrally composed, taken slightly below eye level. The shoots take place during daylight, outside empty out-of-hours schools. This creates an uneasy setting for the models. Without any indication of the time, one could easily presume that if s ‘the momi ng after the evening before’. The new situation, the hour, the institution, the artist’s camera, all intentionally interrogates the strength of the girls’ nightclub performances. The young women have an ambivalent relationship with their new scenario. Outside of their theatre (and positioned within the photographer’s) they struggle to get fully into their role. Even the camera, an instrument of attraction and revelation within the club, can’t lure them into their nightclub persona. The resulting photographs are oddly comic as the girls appear self-conscious but there is a more powerful feeling of pathos, nostalgia, and the acid tinge of naivety corrupted and exploited.
from Moira Lovell‘s website