Photographer Takes 30 Year ‘Before & After” Shots Of London Women
Back in 1980, Anita Corbin scoured all the nooks and crannies in search of London women that broke the conventional norm at the time. Venturing across the streets of London, photographer Anita Corbin went in the city’s many pubs and clubs, capturing the portrait of 56 London women, all from different subcultures and backgrounds.
Her tireless searching culminated with a photographic project called Visible Girls – which, in itself, documents the different lifestyles and the attitudes and attires that go with them. Among these, we have the mods, punks, rockabillies, rastas, and others who defied mainstream sensibilities at the time. All of the women appear to be confident and proud of what they are, all the while standing in groups of two outside of bathroom stalls, or dark street alleys and corners.
The project, Visible Girls, was a touring exhibition back in the 1980s and early 90s. But over time, Corbin lost touch with the women in the photos. But thanks to the power of social media, many of these women began resurfacing in Corbin’s life. Back in 2014, BuzzFeed published a collection of images that were the initial catalyst for their reunion.
Finding those long lost girls was something that Corbin always hoped that would happen one day. “It was a bit of a dream that I had,” Corbin explained. “I did try to do it in 1991 but I couldn’t find any of them. All the numbers had changed or they’d moved away, so I let it go dormant for about 25 years.”
Since then, Corbin had interviewed and photographed many of those women as they are now. She was even able to facilitate gatherings and reunions for the women that also lost touch over the years. “So they’re now reconnected through the Visible Girls project, which in a way is what it’s all about,” Corbin reports. “You know, rekindling those old friendships, those strong bonds of young women, that idea of ‘me and her against the world.’”
Now, with the project expanded and improved, Corbin has brought back her London women back to the spotlight with Visible Girls: Revisited. She is expected to launch an exhibition where there are the before and after photos, alongside the recordings and interviews from both 1981 and the present. The exhibition will be installed at the Phoenix Gallery in Exter from Friday, November 17 to Thursday, December 21, 2017.
To date, not all the women part of the original project has been found. If by any chance you’re one of them, reading this, then please feel free to contact Corbin because she’s looking for you.