girlfriends are the new power couple
"Photography is a beautiful weapon," says French photographer Armony Dailly. The artist, who hails from the suburbs of Paris, had reached out to me a few weeks ago with a special message. She believed that girlfriends are the new power couple, and I have no doubt that she's right. Her photography is nostalgic, capturing the ordinary moments of the women around her--the women who inspire her--and turning them into the extraordinary. She is unshakable in her convictions, dedicated with every snap and roll of film to celebrating the beauty of female friendship in all of its intimacy, messiness, and freedom.
Here Girls & Glory chats with Dailly about the photo series that brings her admiration for girlfriends to life.
Tell us about yourself. Who is Armony Dailly?
I'm a 23 years old self-taught photographer from the Paris suburbs in France. I also study cinema at university.
What draws you to photography? Why do you use this choice of medium to express yourself?
Since I was a child, I've always had a fascination for photography. I observed my mother who, from her camera, observed my sisters and me. She often bought us disposable cameras so we could capture our memories forever. Then, when I grew up, I bought my own DSLR and film camera to learn more seriously. I have this strong feeling that this medium is a collective experience, it helps me to catch those unique moments that will never exist anymore. Photography is like a kind of therapy and a way to learn more about others and myself. I can really connect with my emotions.
Who are your greatest artistic inspirations?
I have a lot! I have always felt more inspired and in admiration in front of works by young women artists such as, Ashley Armitage, Petra Collins, Olivia Bee, Evangeline Davis, Samera Paz. I love and admire how they see the world through their cameras, how they see the female body and claim for the female gaze. I also have a lot of love for the work of older artists like Nan Goldin, Newsha Tavakolian, Vivian Maier. What's strong is you can always tell if it was their work without knowing it beforehand.
What has photography taught you about yourself?
Photography gives me power. I have the feeling that I can control time and see it in another way because photography teaches me to be more observant. When I feel nostalgic and I look at my pictures, it's like time doesn't exist. I can remember the atmosphere, the smells, the way I felt. Photography still gives me a lot of confidence in myself and in my body. When I see beautiful photos of girls unshaved, with rolls, periods, stretch marks, I started to feel free and I gradually stopped being so hard on myself. I accepted that I didn't want to be a pure product of beauty standards, I wanted to be me. Photography is a beautiful weapon.
Let's talk about your series Girlfriends are the New Power Couple. You mentioned how strongly you value your female friendships, so what drew you to documenting your girlfriends and their lives?
Since I was a kid, I loved the very personal photos of everyday people and tried to feel the emotions of the moment. I think it's because I grew up spending countless hours as a teenager watching the photos my mother had taken of her own teenage years and my childhood's pictures. I started very spontaneously with my film camera to immortalize the people I spent most of my time with, the people that I love the most: my girlfriends. It became an addiction. Through my lens, I want to catch their truth, their feelings. I photograph my girlfriends in the same way we could photograph a couple or a lover to show that feminine friendship is as beautiful and intense that a love relationship, and friendship is often more durable and mystical. What's beautiful in female friendship is that we are not afraid to hug, hold hands, say that we love each other, we can talk about everything without taboos. I celebrate the joy of finding your soulmates, your family of choice, it's like us against the world.
What do you hope people take from your photography--specifically from Girlfriends are the New Power Couple?
I would like to express the female gaze. Sometimes, I remember the sentence in Virgin Suicides when Cecilia said, after her suicide attempt : « Obviously doctor, you've never been a 13 years old girl ». Since we're little girls, and I speak of the female gaze because I only experience my life as a girl, we are put under a crazy incomprehensible pressure. When we grow up, adults and boys look at us differently and our nascent sensuality is judged and scares them. We are sexualized very early, it's very difficult to understand our bodies when our most intimate choices are the subject of a public debate. We have to behave a certain way like, not laughing too loudly, being discreet to avoid being attacked in the streets, like it's our fault. Most of my friends that appears in Girlfriends are the New Power Couple have a lot of complexities but when we are together, there is a reassuring connection. I think a woman alone is strong, but many women together are powerful in order to fight against internal and external pressures. The day I took these photos was a day like others, we were walking and dancing in pajamas in the streets of Paris, climbing walls, smoking as if we still have to hide, hugging, almost screaming while speaking. There are a million ways to be a woman, a million skin tones, sizes, ways to dress, to behave. When people look at this series or my photography in general, I want them to be aware that women is plural and it means freedom. We are not some kind of fragile dolls here to please, we are here to live our lives.
Do you have any new creative projects in the works and what can we expect from you in the future?
I would like to focus more on the diversity of the female body. I recently contacted and did a photoshoot with a girl who is an activist. The photoshoot was about showing body hair on female body. It was so rewarding to collaborate with another girl and get to know her. I'm not super confident, sometimes shy, but I try as much as possible to break my barriers and contact people I don't know to work with. I'm preparing a project where I will collaborate with a bunch of people who identify as women with different bodies and shoot in a studio. I'm also thinking of making a little zine dedicated to the photos I took of my girlfriends.
What advice do you have for women and nonbinary folk moving through the world today?
I'm not an influential artist but if I could give advice to women and nonbinary people, it would be to fight everyday. Fight against what society wants you to look like, fight for what you want and believe, fight against your inner demons. We shouldn't be afraid, we are valuable and bad ass.