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14:00 / loft COM.NATA / Hall 1 / 136 Obvodnogo Kanala Embankment

Swedish gender photographer Thomas Gurnnasson will present his photo project «Images that change the world». He asks: what is a ‘norm’ for us?
In his exhibits, Thomas studies topics of sex, gender, norm, identification, and the ways the simple picture can change power structures, bare ideas of femininity, masculinity, normality. The same topics are studied in his book «Images that change the world», created in collab with a municipality of a city Gävle in 2016, English translation of which was published by Swedish Institute in 2019.

His critics pushed some newspapers to change their covers, some bureaus — to dismiss their ad campaigns and change their strategies of advertising goods and services on market. With his sense of humor and a neat analysis, Thomas was able to draw a lot of interest to gender critical approach in social networks.

Images that change the world

It all started in 2012, when the authorities of a Swedish city Gävle posted banners with a pictures of its citizens on a Town Halls’ windows. It seemed like a nice project to make people happy.

But once the Town Hall received a call from a worried citizen: «Do you realize that those pictures humiliate young women?» — they said. If you looked closer, you could see that the majority of posters represented men and boys as determined and active, while most of the girls and women looked shy, passive. The Mayor’s office also noted that the posters really lacked images of elderly people, PoC, gay and lesbian couples, people with disabilities…

The town authorities admitted their fault and decided to make up for it. They asked a gender photographer Thomas Gurnasson to help, and he, together with the town citizens, created a new exhibition followed by a book, all to inspire others with the idea of equality in diversity.

The exhibit gives its audience an understanding of how unstable can be our existing norms and stereotypical images of men and women, that are transferred through images in our everyday life — in media, ads, art, selfies — and how we can think critically of those norms with the help of the very same images.

The exhibit will take place from 22 to 27 September during the Fest events. It is supported by a Swedish Institute and Consulate General of Sweden in Saint Petersburg.

[The photo features a white masculine person in a grey suit. He lies on a red leather sofa, pulling his shoeless feet up. His right arm rests on his chest, and he touches his ear with his left hand. He smiles into the camera. On the background you can see posh lamps, fireplace, and a portrait in a golden frame.

The note on the top says: «Posing like a boss», and a little below that the smaller note goes: «Why are successful, powerful women frequently reduced to eye candy by the media? Why are men in positions of power not expected to smile and pose enticingly for the viewer? If you haven’t noticed this discrepancy before, allow Johan Adolffson, the city of Gavie’s communications director, to illustrate it for you».]