Trained to be a Girl

Sophie Barbasch
Fatma Karslıoğlu
About More Articles

Sophie Barbasch, a New York-based photographer does not only work on the aesthetic appeal of the photographs but also comes to the forefront as a collector and a well-author. Previously, we have included her Fault Line project in the 18th Issue. And now, we include her unique work, "Trained to be a Girl", which comes to the foreground with its literary text and collecting specialties this time.  

For many years, she has been asking men, that she doesn't know on craigslist, questions about love, loneliness, and regret such as; "Please write me a love letter", "Tell me about a mistake you made" or "What do you do about heartbreak?", and then collected answers in a series of 10 volumes of book series. These questions and answers, each close to each other, each completes the sentence of one another, soothe Barbasch's anxieties as well as these anonymous men's. She describes her project as "a collection of fragmented voices that come together, decontextualized, abstracted, like an improbable poem.".   

There is another agenda of the project, beyond that the artist to feel good. For instance, we can find traces of slummed femininity perception in the work "Tell me why I'm a good girl". At this point, although men's discourse seems positive, Barbasch states that the descriptions contain stereotypical judgments and misogyny that women are accustomed. Or the uncomfortable feeling comes with the fact that she will never really know these men who share their most private photographs with her… This tension between anonymity and intimacy is another crucial point. It is possible to adapt this uncomfortable feeling to any case where the basic relationship with another person is established. So, this is not just the internet culture. 

Although "Trained to be a Girl" contains a lot of text from the people that the artist has talked with, we do not see the artist's implications in written form. This promises two things, first is that the reader can involve in the project as a directive factor, and the second is an assurance of many new stories beyond imagination.