Taken at her parents’ house in rural Maine, Barnard’s photographs locate the teenage body as a site with the potential for violence both acted and enacted. By email, Barnard explained that she wished “to co-opt this idea of a violent nightmare, but put the women back in charge of it.” The images are imbued with a sense of closeness—the girls are her sisters, Sophie and twins Claudia and Grace—as well as a deep familiarity with the female body. Images of thighs painted with silvery stretch marks and backs dotted with acne scars center the idea of a body in flux, of the inherent trauma of teenage girlhood being impossible to separate from its loveliness.
“Sophie has all these scars from bug bites that she picks endlessly,” Barnard commented. “I really liked the idea of taking something that is hyper-sexualized, like a woman’s legs, but documenting them with all of her scars and scabs.”
That subversion runs through all of her photographs, but it’s most evident in the image of blood whirling down Sophie’s thigh, the bright-red of roses and kissed-lips and neon. For women, menstrual blood is commonplace, yet it remains taboo. The close-up details her sister’s sodden T-shirt and underwear, allowing her body to exist on its terms without sanitisation or sexualisation. It’s a conscious decision of Barnard’s, she noted: “Whenever we make images of her scars or of bruises and hickeys, it’s more supposed to be a finger pointing back to the viewer.”