German photographer Sophie Kirchner focuses much of her work on documenting social issues and giving a voice to disadvantaged groups through her art. With her series, Male Sport, Sophie hopes to inspire a conversation about gender parity by honoring women who love their sport, and play it with passion.
“In Germany, women still are not equal to men in some aspects of society and in many professional fields. I was looking for a platform that almost everyone can relate to – like sports – to address this,” says Sophie in her artist statement. “Here, it is not about soccer or boxing, where women are by now reasonably accepted. It is about sports, where men can still be real guys: water polo, ice hockey and rugby.”
“With my portraits I simply point out that these women are not marginal, but that society is marginalizing them.”
Sophie set up a studio at sports arenas and shot top-level female athletes in all three sports. The women were photographed immediately following their games and are captured with pupils wide open, and adrenaline clearly still pumping. Sophie chose to photograph the women without shirts or uniforms on, so that viewers are forced to focus on the expressions of the women’s faces.
“A lot of people who looked at my work said, ‘They are very manly. They are not very sexy or girly.’ Some people said they were afraid of the women somehow because they look so strong and that made them insecure. When I was working on conceiving the work, I was thinking about these prejudices that exist in society,” says Sophie. She adds, “With my portraits I simply point out that these women are not marginal, but that society is marginalizing them.”