Art And Culture

HK Photo Exhibition of High-Flying Women

HK Photo Exhibition of High-Flying WomenHK Photo Exhibition of High-Flying Women

From corporate executives to rights campaigners, the latest show by photographer Annie Leibovitz revolves around high-flying women -- though some hated having their picture taken, she says.

“Women: New Portraits” opened in Hong Kong on May 31, the fifth stop on a 10-city tour, displayed in a bare bones setting on a disused floor of an industrial building.

The images were produced on an Epson printer in her office and are tacked to the walls with drawing pins.

The US artist, renowned for portraits of leading figures from John Lennon to Elizabeth II, calls the collection a work in progress. It is a continuation of a project published in 1999 called “Women”.

Whereas the original collection incorporated women who were not in the public eye, the new set revolves around those who have made a splash in their chosen field, AFP reported.

“I am very aware of women’s issues...But I have to be careful of how I venture into them,” she told reporters. “I really did imagine the show primarily about women in the public consciousness, who have emerged.”

The new works include portraits of young Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, dancer Misty Copeland -- the first African American woman to become principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater -- and Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

“Each woman here has a story that is very valuable...It’s very democratic and not one woman here is more important than the other,” Leibovitz said.

“I felt like there is a new feeling of confidence in the women sitting and having their photographs taken. They seem to know much more who they are and what they’re doing, much more than where we were in 1999.”

She hopes to work further with Yousafzai and with Myanmar’s veteran activist, now foreign minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, also in the collection. But while her new subjects are all leaders in their field, not all were comfortable in front of the camera.

British primatologist Jane Goodall declared that she preferred going to the dentist than having her photo taken, says Leibovitz.

Leibovitz says she sympathizes with hesitant subjects. “Who wants to have their photo taken?” she asks.

“It’s such a moment of having to confront yourself and who you are, what you look like, and your soul. It’s complicated!”