School Play, 2007

In 'School Play' I examine the group dynamics of teenage female relationships and photographed groups of twenty or more schoolgirls. I also contrasted the behavioural differences between girls of different cultural backgrounds.

I photographed English schoolgirls in the environment of a traditional old-English school. In contrast, I shot scenes with Asian schoolgirls in a very modern university. The images are taken in familiar settings such as the classroom, changing room, library, dining hall and school stage.

I reduced the significance of the individual to a minimum by dressing each group of girls in identical school uniforms and had them wear wigs to match hair-colour and hair-style. In this way our attention is directed only to the behaviour of the group.

From my observation of the differences in the two cultures, I show the Western girls as individuals in a more-or-less chaotic group. They show excesses in their behaviour - shearing a girl's hair and tearing up books. Also I imply a degree of bullying in the scene where a menstruating girl appears humiliated by the stares of the other girls.

On the other hand, my images of the Asian girls show them as more disciplined in a close-knit, coherent togetherness. They arrange themselves in rows and lines, all doing the same thing. They all wear 3D spectacles in the cinema, or practice nappy changing on baby dolls together. Everything shows self-discipline, regimentation, order.