Looking at the work of young English photographer Maisie Cousins, it’s clear a bold new talent has arrived. Confronting, intelligent and full of flesh. This isn’t sexuality for the sake of it, this is someone who wants to reopen a discussion about our appropriation of the human body. With almost 20,000 followers and growing on her Instagram, this is someone to take notice of. We had a quick chat with Maisie to find out more.
We love your work, its fresh and exciting. Can you tell us a bit about it and how you got started?
There was never a decision where I thought to make pictures, I just always did it. I would bunk off a lot and make things at home, and share them online and that became a way of having my own mark on the world and validated my depressing 16 year old existence. I’ve felt let down by the education system throughout my school years and even higher education. I think the structure of learning in these ways can be incredibly backwards for creative people. It was years of failing to tick boxes that proved I was worth something. Making things just gave me something to do and to feel a part of.
Are you comfortable with people applying the term ‘feminism’ to your work constantly? It seems very overused these days. Is there another way you would describe your work?
It’s the go-to word for any female artist whether their intentions are feminist or not. It’s turned into a lazy buzzword. I will never reject the word but it does bore the hell out of me for my work to always be labelled as the same things. I don’t like describing my work. It feels unnatural. But I cover a lot of themes that interest me; waste, greed, sex, hate, and nature. I’m interested in being human and all the delicious and gross things that come along with it.
Your work possesses a lot of energy, vitality and urgency, and you are also very young as an artist. Do you think youth is also an ever present theme in your work, does it fit in there somehow?
I have no desire to capture youth, I’m just using what I have around me and I guess I’m young. I think society is so ageist and youth celebrating. I’m finding it more and more uncomfortable shooting portraits of people younger than me. I think my subjects grow with me and I want to make more of an effort to photograph people much older than me.
There really seems to be this growing movement of females making a discerning body of work that pushes a lot of boundaries, I am thinking of people like Petra Collins, Signe Pearce, Liza Mandellup, Tavi Gevinson etc. Do you find yourself aligned with this movement or these woman? Do you think there is something happening here?
I love all these babes! There’s so many more as well; Lucy Hardcastle, Liv Thurley, Ione Gamble, Celia Edel, Christina Poku, Nadia Lee, Meg Lavender, Elle Hardwick, Ayesha Jones, Juno Calypso, May Waver, Molly Soda, Olivia Bee, Alexandra Marzella, Molly Matalon, I could go on for hours, there are so many. There is defiantly something happening here. We’re all over the world.
We like your work because it challenges preconceived notions about the human body and how it should be presented? Would you agree and why?
Like most people, I’m dissatisfied in what my eyes are shown. Western culture is obsessed with peoples bodies in such a creepy way, whether it be celebrity baby bodies, mutilated bodies, shows like Embarrassing Bodies, How to Look Good Naked, 10 Years Younger, our obsession with obese people. It’s mundane and bizarre. It’s like we don’t own our own bodies anymore and they are objects up for discussion by anyone. I like to think shooting people nude helps us claim back some ownership of ourselves.
Can you tell us a bit about what inspires you? It can be anything from books, websites, movies to food.
I read a lot of science fiction, listen to a lot of Disco and eat a lot of food. My fave movies are usually visual, anything by Peter Greenaway or Gregg Araki. I’m not very poetic. I like things to be quite literal.
Whats next for you?
Videos! They take so long but I love them.