my tv girls
On the occasion of Paris Photo 2023 (stand A25), the gallery is presenting My TV Girls series by Tom Wilkins to the public for the first time. This series of television images was made between 1978 and 1982 in Boston, and invariably features women. Or almost, as it ends with the one and only self-portrait of the series in which Tom Wilkins depicts himself as a woman. Who is Tom Wilkins? This is the question Sébastien Girard has been trying to answer since 2011, when he acquired 911 enigmatic Polaroids, which he published in 2017 under the name My TV Girls.
Little is known about Tom Wilkins, other than that he lived from 1951 to 2007, probably in Boston, as evidenced by other, more personal Polaroids.
So how are we to interpret such a body of images taken on the fly? Beyond the fact that they illustrate with a certain crudity the way in which the small screen - and American society as a whole - was shaping the image of the desirable woman.
It appears that Wilkins is asking far more fundamental questions, from the quest for identity to the sublimation of the libido. Through this methodical collection of iconic female subjects, Tom Wilkins reveals and conceals himself in the process, leaving us alone with the bluish beauty of this fascinating ensemble.
In the self-portrait that brings this series to a close, Tom Wilkins himself becomes the subject of his research. He poses as a woman, caught in a mirror, his face hidden by the camera and wearing a bra. Nevertheless, this cross-dressing - however derisory it may seem - reveals a man’s profound need to escape gender assignment, paradoxically using the stereotypes conveyed by the society of his time to characterize his preferred gender.
Watch the interview with sébastien girard and christian berst on the stand: click here
Who is Tom Wilkins? That is the question Sébastien Girard has been trying to answer since 2011 when he acquired 900 enigmatic Polaroids, which were later published in 2017 under the title My TV Girls. This series of television captures, ranging from 1978 to 1982, consistently features women and concludes with the only self-portrait in the series where Tom Wilkins portrays himself as a woman. Found in an house in Boston, United States, the acquisition of this extensive photographic series gave rise to the almost detective-like investigation that Sébastien Girard pursued for nearly 12 years in order to unravel the mystery of Tom Wilkins.
catalogue publié à l’occasion de l’exposition
tom wilkins : my tv girls à Paris Photo
du 9 au 12 novembre 2023
288 pages, 10,5 x 14,5 cm
édition bilingue de 500 exemplaires
prix 15 €