Self-published zine teenVag promotes a more inclusive view of women coming of age through photography. Last week, BULLETT covered the last installment of the teenVAG show. We spoke to Natasha Nunez and Allison Levy and found out about the work behind the zine, the role of women in front and behind the camera, and their goals for the upcoming year.
BULLETT Mag: How do you think teenVAG plays into a larger narrative of
photography featuring young sexualized women?
Natasha Nuñez: teenVAG was created as a platform for female artists,
who’s intellectual and creative awareness gleam through the work they
produce- whatever medium it may be. The first issue of teenVAG is
assembled under the basis of photography. The body of work showcases
the talented young women who capture the reality of girls as their own
Allison Levy: In today’s world of contemporary photography the
majority of work featuring “sexualized women” is produced by men,
offering their perception on the female ideal. teenVAG denounces that
ideal. With the introduction of teenVAG into this greater narrative, a
notable shift in perception is produced. While there are many
publications and artists that favor women or are considered feminist,
teenVAG, to our knowledge, is the only produced body of work that is
made by girls featuring solely female artists.
BULLETT Mag: The inaugural show featured a photograph of a women
photographer looking at her blood stained underwear that many visitors
found offensive. Next to this image was several attractive and
seductive pictures of sexy girls. In what way did you consider these
juxtapositions? Would you argue that this is more of an encompassing
view of a young woman, or speaks to many of the repressed daily
experience that anyone with female organs may experience?
Natasha Nuñez: There was evident shock factor in several images that
were featured in the first issue of teenVAG. The unadulterated images
the artists captured reveal moments we as females all relate to,
without objectifying the subject, at times the artist herself. And
yes, riding the crimson wave was one of these moments.
Allison Levy: Female menstruation is seldom a topic that is discussed-
as it is usually found offensive. Modern advertisement of tampon and
sanitary pads exemplify beautiful women that seem happy to be bleeding
from their “female organs.” The image that was displayed exposes the
reality of this solely female experience. While we disagree with the
use of the words “seductive,” or “sexy” when referring to the images
that were displayed, the juxtaposition of these beautiful and intimate
moments alongside the grime of the piece previously discussed,
represent women as a whole. The zine and the images included were
curated to highlight the aspects that embody women today- the beauty
and the grime all possess the essence of girls being girls.
BULLETT Mag: Many of your photographers also photograph for larger
companies like Vice, Urban Outfitters, as well as some designers. What
do you think their role is in differentiating art from professional
Allison Levy: The featured artists each have a strong understanding of
the work they produce and what element of their work inspires the
clients they work with. Commercial photography is commissioned- the
artist has somewhat of a responsibility to achieve the vision of the
said client. The featured artists create on a personal level,
conceptualizing ideas while sharing their perceptions and individual
Natasha Nuñez: The artists we chose to work with for the first issue
all possess an exceptional, yet distinct aesthetic- a particular mood
is evoked when one is exposed to their work. This is what makes a
creative, what makes art- that feeling, or mood they cause others to
experience. The spirit in their imagery is never lost and translates
through work they produce, client or no client.
BULLETT Mag: What is the importance of collating this selection of
female photographers together in an although affordable, yet exclusive
distribution like a zine?
Allison Levy: While zines are a small forum to expose artists’ work,
they are still a part of a culture unto itself. The effort and
attention that was put into the production of the teenVAG truly sets
it apart from what is out there and available. It is a collective
project. We wanted to fill that void which we thought was missing.
Natasha Nuñez: It is important for female artists to have a voice and
presence in the creative community- teenVAG creates that outlet.
Allison and I are lucky to have been introduced to such an amazing
group of talented young women within our time in New York. We had the
pleasure of finally working together to involve all of these artists-
they were an inspiration in the conceptualization of this first issue
and have truly set the groundwork for teenVAG.
BULLETT Mag: What’s on the horizon? Any new shows? Where can we
purchase the zine?
Allison Levy: We intend to make teenVAG a biannual distribution- in
the coming weeks we will embark on the conceptualization and
production of the second issue due in December.
Natasha Nuñez: Our first show at AMO Studios was a great success and
we thank everyone who came out that night to show their support-
definitely want to have another show before the end of the year, take
what we have learned and cultivate new ideas, work towards improving-
there’s always room for it.
Allison Levy: The potential of teenVAG is still very much unknown to
us, but we hope it will grow and expand beyond what either of us
expect. teenVAG is available at Opening Ceremony, aNYthing, McNally
Jackson Bookstore, Assembly New York and a few additional shops. Visit
http://teenvag.com for the full stockist list