One Step Closer (Ett steg närmare) is a project about aging.
The project started with a series of self-portraits. I was exploring the feelings tied to the identity shift that happened as I retired. Those images were made into a photo-book dummy, which I titled One Step Closer. I have continued to photograph self-portraits, but now with a focus on how the aging woman is depicted in the media and viewed by society at large.
People over the age of 65 are rarely shown in advertising and other public media, and women in that age group are especially underrepresented. When older women are depicted it is often in the context of appearing younger, for example in advertisements for anti-aging skin creams. This is in part because women are primarily attributed social value though their appearance, in contrast to men who more often are recognized for their actions and achievements.
In my project One Step Closer, I have created a range of self-portraits series with varying mood, color and perspective to show a multi-faceted representation of aging as a woman. At the same time, I also aim to reflect on and look closer at my own experience of getting older. As I put together the initial dummy, the feelings that mostly dominated my thinking were powerlessness, invisibility and frustration, concepts I also felt reflected the public view of older women.
In my continued photographic explorations, the meanings of these words have garnered a deeper and more nuanced meaning as they have brought me to other observations. For instance, I have realized the importance of looking at myself with a critical gaze, acknowledging that my project is specifically a reflection of is a reflection of a white, middle-class, heterosexual and urban woman’s perspective, and by no means aim to encompass all narratives around aging. I also have learned the role humor plays in my work, as I playfully embrace the frustration of aging. Last but not least, the importance of the relentless determination with which I believe I can make a difference.
These observations give me the motivation to portray how I experience this era of life. Through my art-making, I hope to inspire others to join me in questioning society’s narrow view of aging women.