Woman to Woman, Regard de Femmes
Michele Mattei and Elizabeth Yochim
A Ten-Year Photographic Journey
Woman to Woman, Regard de Femmes is a photographic journey documenting the friendship between two women artists: art appraiser and artist Elizabeth Yochim and myself.
It is a ten-year collaboration that records the fluid interaction between us—the seer and the seen—with images expressing change, growth, and the passage of time.
Our friendship grew from our initial working relationship of gallerist and photographer, to a collaboration between two artists, to the camaraderie of women traversing personal loss, professional challenges and the metamorphoses that happen over time.
The project provides an occasion to reflect on the role of artist collaborations amongst women and the complexities of navigating the art world.
It was never meant to be a ten-year project. Each photoshoot was its own time capsule. The photographs were not studied after each session. They were briefly reviewed and then archived.
However, in the Fall of 2020 upon viewing the most recent photoshoot, a story and visual narrative began to emerge. Elizabeth and I agreed to write about our experience and we spent a year reflecting on our own distinct journey: what it means to see and be seen, and questioning the role of the female gaze.
Through these photographs, we see how much we have grown into the women we are today. They document the birth of the Angelbird, a character that Elizabeth imagined into being, and her subsequent emergence as a street performer in Europe.
After forty years of projecting my photonic light on my subjects, I explore in my essay the intimate relationship of women looking at women and examine the integration of my career as journalist, photo-journalist and fine art photographer.
“We are ten years older than when we started. Our bodies are changing. Our faces are changing. Time is ticking. Looking back is informing how we look forward.”
The project is relevant and timely as it also offers a roadmap and inspiration around the theme of setting oneself free. It documents the experience of women supporting women that dare to self-actualize and reach for their highest potential as human beings and artists. The project was lived forward and understood in hindsight as examining the role of the female gaze.
Woman to Woman, Regard de Femmes is about giving women the courage to be who they know themselves to be in the privacy of their own thoughts, and to inspire others to think about what it means to see and to be seen.