In the follow-up from our interview last week with photographer Jenny Evans, Vi Girgis speaks with Eleanor Boden who was the subject of Jenny’s work. Eleanor trains at the Mundine Gym at the Block in Sydney.
Eleanor, being photographed can be a very intimate and confronting experience. What were your initial feelings about being so extensively documented while doing something that is so intrinsically a part of who you are?
When I compete I can hear photographers taking photos when I connect. So I just thought I’d go about what I was doing. When Jenny first started taking my photo I was getting coached on the pads and I could hear that ‘click and whirr’ sound. But then when we loosened up, I forgot she was there. I think that’s how the photos came together more organically.
There was probably a great rapport as the photos were taken, and you became more comfortable with each other. What do you think of the artwork outcome?
I really like the series. Jenny is brilliant at communication. Every time she took my photo, she would show me. But that was when there were no effects. She just had a massive flash behind me and took photos. So I thought they would look really cool in the exhibition. But I had no idea they would come out like this. Jenny just went to town.
Has this experience changed your understanding of women in sport in general?
I’m quite an open-minded person, but I live a very basic life. I just do my own training and think about my own sport. The exhibition has helped me see that other people have a strong passion for physical activity, because it’s so important for mental health. The photographs of women wearing the hijab to play football is very inspiring for the next generation of kids.
How has this changed any other aspect of your life?
Now I really appreciate what photographers do; when they can capture that perfect moment. I’ve always pushed to all my clients that boxing is a hard road. It’s an art that you have to dedicate yourself to. Photography is similar. It’s an artform. I’m now more appreciative when I see a good photo. It has changed my understanding of art and looking at artworks and looking at photos not just as photos, but also as art. It’s more than just a picture to look at.
How do you think the experience has changed Jenny?
Jenny opened her eyes to the stereotypes that the Block had. There were a lot of people hanging around and Jenny came right to the centre of the Block. It is such a positive, safe and welcoming environment where we promote healthy lifestyles. Jenny feels really safe in our community.
* Onside is on at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Museum in Sydney until 24th March.