In 2017, ageing is the stuff of nightmares. We shun the natural tilt of time with fillers, silicone, Botox, pentapeptides – feed us a pseudoscientific spiel and we’ll probably try it. Photographer Anita Corbin doesn’t subscribe to all that – at least, you wouldn’t think she does, given her beautiful depiction of time and ageing in her photo series Visible Girls: Revisited.
The work began over thirty years ago, when Corbin, then a fledgling photographer, captured the subcultures of the Eighties through a series of twenty-eight double portraits, all of women, shot in their natural hangouts. Mods, skinheads, rockers, Rastas and young lesbians – these adolescent women emanated a cultural allegiance and identity that attracted Corbin to document them for her original project, Visible Girls, which toured the UK in the ’80s and ’90s.
Thirty-six years later, Corbin has shot those same women for a new exhibition, Visible Girls: Revisited, which maps their transformation and individual stories over the period with new portraits that will be shown alongside the originals. The women, most of whom were found via an international social media outreach campaign, will once again be the subject of an exhibition that tours the country until 2020, with each iteration inspired by the voice of the respective city. Opening today in Exeter before a nationwide tour, we spoke to Anita to find out more…
FINN BLYTHE: How did the project initially come about? Did you know when you started out that you would revisit the couples?
ANITA CORBIN: In August 1980 I’d just turned twenty two, I was living in Covent Garden, and studying photography in Central London right at the beginning of my career. Everything started to take off that summer. I started to follow my path into portrait photography, and I knew then that people would be my inspiration. I’m a Londoner born and bred, and I became interested in the way we express ourselves through the informal uniforms of youth after a previous project looking at ‘Women in (formal) Uniform’ – my first foray in to photographing people.
FB: If the identity of the young women was defined by their subcultures, what is it defined by today?
AC: Some are still involved with their subcultures, especially the mods. But like most women nowadays we’re juggling many balls; careers, families and our dreams. We don’t need the structure of subculture so much now, but we still need our friends and each other.
Visible Girls: Revisited will be on at the Exeter, Phoenix from 17th November to 21st December 2017, Norwich Arts Centre from 7th February to 14th March 2018 and Bristol Trinity Centre from 6th September – 4th October 2018