Anna Fox – Mask & Role Play in English Society

She’s been compared with Nan Goldin and as a student of Martin Parr,  Anna Fox’s work is often compared with his too but there’s far more to the work of this British photographer than meets the eye.

Her pictures reveal a shocking war between the sexes.

The opening picture in Anna Fox, Photographs 1983 – 2007 is a riff on Arbus’ famous picture Identical Twins, Roselle New Jersey 1967. It’s a bold statement of intent and a piece of artistic positioning that is ultimately proven to be true.

Fox’s chosen image, Hampshire Village Nativity 2001, shows two girls, almost identically dressed and almost mirror images of each other. And like the twins in Arbus’ image one is serene and un-troubled while the other is truculent and challenging. And just like Arbus’ twins,  Fox’s young girls are dressed up for role they’ve been given to play.

Anna Fox, Photographs 1983 – 2007

The book is laid out in a series of essays that form a chronology of her work. It runs from her early body of post student work, through unflinchingly domestic interiors, right up to a series of pictures that focus explicitly on mask and role play.

The key to reading her work lies in an extraordinary series of photo essays that begins in 1985 with Basingstoke – an essay on consumer culture – and ends in 1993 with The Village – a sharply drawn expose of female control.

Throughout the book, it’s essential to be aware of the skilled hand of editor, Val Williams,  sequencing and shaping the unfolding narrative revealed by Fox’s lens.