Being a girl is okay.
Over the last two years, Petra Collins has been noticed above all because of photographs where her pubic hair was visible or of the menstruating vaginas of her friends. But she’s not one to shout for attention.
The world outside simply still doesn’t understand what the work of the 23-year-old Canadian actually communicates. Because the lives of these very young women in high school bathrooms and overflowing teenage rooms, which have grown along with Collins and reflect her output, look like, at first glance, miraculous elves. Far too pink and cotton candy.
Petra Collins wants to hold on to becoming. Puberty and the vitriolic scramble from small to large. This crazy hectic and very cruel moment where everything – body and mind – is changing way too fast. Collins’ photographs are a place where this pressure has the chance to escape. Where young women belong and can be seen. A place of being yourself. Despite the rawness of the images a tenderness dominates above all. Collins doesn’t believe that there’s only room for one or the fighting and hostility between women, which is only instilled from outside, rather she believes in solidarity and closeness. In an “Army of Women.”
This year she published out her first book: Babe. It looks like an album of poetry from the 90s. The 90s are important for Collins and her generation. They are the moment of birth and a stylish visual anchor, but this coming of age aesthetic from television series like My So-Called Life are, of course, a trick. Babes like Petra Collins are not simply sweet or limited to the one-dimensional. In the photos and collages from her and 29 other artists you can see three-dimensional girls. Used tampons, fried chicken, iPhones with missed calls from mom, milky bathwater, red lips, selfies on the toilet, balloons and nailpolish. There is also a to-do list, which includes: “Make a successful film about a slutty girl who lives happily ever after.”
Petra Collins isn’t just an artist and photographer. She is a feminist. She’s at the helm of the “New Feminist Wave” in North America, together with her best friend Tavi Gevinson, the girl who started her first fashion blog at age 11 and today directs the online magazine Rookie for teenage girls. Effortlessly and without this either-or, or rather, contrast-thinking, that has held back feminism for years. Collins refuses that which already exists, the quotes and the references, that is to say, the things that adults say because they believe they know better. She relies on the fact that being a girl is totally okay. And she’s allowed to grow. You don’t have to fit in. Really.