Mankica Kranjec: The Overlooked
The Overlooked, a comprehensive photographic project, puts working women, of different ages and religious and social backgrounds, in the foreground and gives them a voice. This unseen labor force keeps the country running in times of peace and crisis. Nurses, firefighters, cashiers at grocery stores, postal carriers, teachers, public transportation drivers, garbage collectors, delivery service workers, and many more took care of those most in need during the recent crisis. While the world had stopped, essential workers ensured that basic goods were supplied to citizens and literally held everything together. These workers are a vital part of the foundation on which our society has been built. However, being essential only sometimes means being well-compensated or even noticed and respected.
With this unique artistic-documentary interpretation and extensive photographic project, the author places the invisible actors of our society in the foreground while simultaneously presenting the real “behind the scenes” flesh and blood heroines who are often overlooked. Furthermore, with all the portrait photographs taken in a documentary style, the author playfully and skillfully intertwines the overlapping roles female workers play at work and at home.
The photographer pursued the idea of layering the women’s roles and chose a modern printing technique with lenticular film as a medium. This technique creates a unique illusion. Through an exacting process, two portraits of each female worker are combined, which results in the visual transition between the portraits. The images change as they are viewed from different angles, thus enhancing their stopping power and imploring the viewer to notice these heroines.
The women we see in the pictures are intriguing, but there is more to them than meets the eye. They are not just workers. They also double as mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and so much more. They are housewives, artists, musicians, and book lovers. Perhaps even athletes, motorcycle enthusiasts, amateur gardeners, or cyclists. Their roles overlap and the boundaries between them are blurred. All women have their own hopes and desires, talents and ambitions. Yet, they are often underappreciated, underpaid, and rarely get their voice to be heard.
The photographer randomly selected the subjects for these portraits without pre-determined assumptions about their status, religion, age, skin colour, or nationality. The project depicts those women who were active during the Covid-19 pandemic, and portrays those who were active on the frontline. Mankica wrote an open invitation to participate in the project, offering voluntary participants the opportunity to publicly present a part of their unique life story. Thanks to her public appeal on social networks, she found ten women eager to participate and share their stories. The author approached them as an outside observer, but tried to establish a deeper bond by always seeking eye contact with them through the lens.
Not only does the photographer want to present these women through the photos and short excerpts of the interviews, but she also wants the viewer to actively participate in the project and encourages them to think about (in)equality. Subsequently, Kranjec tries to connect this multifaceted topic with several multidisciplinary fields and address the pervasive and traditionally problematic perception of gender hierarchy. Gender power relations, which influence the distribution of roles in society (and at work), is still a prevalent topic of discussion today that carries great importance, perhaps even more so than in the past. In summary, with her work, the artist encourages everyone to discuss different angles of the abovementioned topics by focusing on those who are overlooked and their actual value in our society.
Thanks for the help in organizing the exhibition:
U.S. State Department and Printing House Grain