About the Photographer
German, b. 1968
Katja Stuke confronts gender in televised athletics by photographing her television screen during broadcasts of the Olympic Games with a focus on female gymnasts who are poised to execute routines on a world stage. By freezing the athletes at points of heightened anticipation and honing in on their facial expressions, the portraits capitalize on the charge of particular moments. At the same time, the pictures offer the opportunity for a studied examination of the athletes’ faces, and bring attention to the hairstyles and makeup typically worn by female gymnasts. World-class women’s gymnastics is notorious for the extreme pressures it places on children and young women to reach exceptional levels of physical ability and mental toughness. Stuke’s photographs equate those pressures with still another layer of expectation on the female gymnast—the existing ideals of youthful feminine grace and beauty that dominate image culture.
Katja Stuke lives and works in Dusseldorf, Germany, where she previously studied photography and video. She has been included in numerous international exhibitions including at the Museum Morsbroich, Lleverkusen, Germany (2012); Photomuseum Braunschweig in Brunswick, Germany (2011); Florence Loewy, Paris (2010, 2011); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2009); Bespoke Gallery, New York (2008); and FOAM, Amsterdam (2005); in addition to participating in a number of international photography and book fairs. Her work is held in a number of public collections in Germany including at the Museum Folkwang, Essen; SK-Stiftung, Cologne; Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf; and Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart.