Rodeo Girls is an ongoing portrait project about young girls from Texas who compete in rodeos.
These individuals have a fundamentally different idea about their femininity and a contrasting attitude towards gender roles. They are engaged in activities that traditionally were reserved for men, they posses great physical strength and demonstrate their dominance over animals.
I am interested in the limitation these girls face in expressing their femininity and the transference of it onto animals, which are very well groomed and pampered. The animals take on the feminine qualities and girls embrace masculine demeanor. Those girls adopted the dress code that follows male fashion system and many of them enjoy not having to look or behave in a feminine way.
They grow up according to a male archetype and I am examining how their lives and identities are shaped by their surroundings.
The photographs celebrate the beauty of the terrain and the idiosyncrasies of this old fashioned American tradition, which is recently vanishing.
Ilona Szwarc: New York, NY
Ilona Szwarc is an award winning photographer who lives and works in New York City.
Her work examines gender, identity and beauty in the context of American culture.
Szwarc has had a solo exhibition at Claude Samuel gallery in Paris and has been shown in group shows internationally – in London, Bilbao and New York. Her work has been featured in numerous publications worldwide including The New York Times Magazine, TIME, The New Yorker, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, Surface China, PDN.
She has won World Press Photo 2013 in the Observed Portraits category, 3rd Prize; PDN 2012 Annual in the Personal Category and has been awarded Grand Prize in the Fine Art category of the PDNedu 2013 contest. She has been selected for American Photography 28 and 29.