Alright guys, it's time to get a little artsy. And political.
Big, important issues can be tough to talk about, so sometimes it's easier to get the point across via aesthetically pleasing imagery.
Take it for what you will, but New York based photographer Sam Lichtenstein is busting out the big guns (tattoo guns that is, really wasn't planning on a pun there but here we are) to get her point across about a really big elephant in the room- the weird stuff women have to hear from creepy men on a daily basis. As a woman, I can attest to hearing my fair share of inappropriate comments everywhere from gas stations to work related situations to social media. This featured WHAT'S GROOVY? post is all about Sam's current body of work, entitled Locker Room Talk, which addresses these issues via tattooing anonymously submitted comments onto fruit, and then communicating them visually with stunning still life photographs.
What is your name/age/current profession?
Hi! My name is Sam Lichtenstein, I turn 21 in February, and I’m currently a photography major in my third year at Parsons the New School for Design in NYC.
This project is very loaded both in terms of concept and content. Was there a specific incident that inspired you to convey these ideas photographically?
The project originated as an idea for my final project in my Core Studio 3 class. I knew I wanted to do something involving tattoos, as I’ve always been interested in them, and I have eight myself. I am also very interested in politics and consider myself an outspoken feminist, so I was pleased to discover some of the history behind women and tattoos: women in the late 1800s used them as a way to rebel against Victorian beauty standards, and I love that. Once I knew I wanted to do something concerning feminism and tattoos, I came up with the idea that I would have women send in things that men have said to them that made them upset or uncomfortable, and I would tattoo those words onto objects. The transition to using fruit came naturally, as I used fruit to learn how to operate the tattoo gun. I also like the idea that fruit decays and rots the same way women can feel rotten and torn down when words start to bother them.
How did you acquire a tattoo gun? Did you have any experience with tattooing before this project?
I actually just ordered a kit on Amazon! It came with a gun (that I had to learn how to put together), ink, gloves, the power source, a pedal, needles, and all of the other necessities. I had no experience using a tattoo gun prior to the project.
What is it like tattooing on fruit? Is the process of permanently inking these phrases onto fruit therapeutic or frustrating? Have you had any pitfalls with the physical process of the tattooing?
Tattooing on fruit can be fun depending on the fruit. When I first started, I used citrus, as I read somewhere that professionals practice on citrus when they begin. However, the skin of lemons and oranges is bumpy and was hard for me to keep a steady hand, so when it came to those fruits, I was frustrated. Softer fruits like apples and pears were fun because I was able to keep more control.
How did you gather submissions for the phrases used? What was your selection process for the final phrases in the images?
I set up a Google form and posted about the project on Facebook, and the responses came pouring in. I had 91 to choose from, and I chose based on length, most of the time. I also wanted to use shocking phrases in order to show people that women are being told these things, whether it be in person or online.
This project is all about the "harmless" things said to women in passing. What has been the feedback you've gotten (from both men and women) since sharing the images?
I actually had a male Facebook friend complain that men are also the target of demeaning speech, and that men should be included in the project. I am by no means saying that men do not have these experiences; I am trying to show that women experience this all too regularly, and most women relate to this project.
Do you see this series continuing or inspiring other future bodies of work?
I absolutely see this project continuing!
Where can people view more, purchase, or keep up with your work?