ConceptEuropeWonder Woman by Susanne Middelberg

First of all some information about the background of the comic character: Wonder Woman represents the American idealized image of justice, idealism, perfection and power.

Wonder Woman represents the American idealized image of justice, idealism, perfection and power. The character was created by William Moulton Marston in 1941, at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, which caused America to join the Second World War.

The first comic was a piece of flag-waving propaganda. The American flag is Wonder Woman’s costume. Moreover, Wonder Woman was the female equivalent of Superman, and thus a manifestation of feminism and emancipation. Marston, who was also the inventor of the first sort of lie de- Tector, stood up for the women’s rights. He thought that women were more honest and reli- more able than men. Wonder Woman’s powers was founded on the truth: Marston gave her the gift to see through lies.

The female archetype is often seen as soft, subservient and peace-loving, but without strength, capacity and power. These female qualities were disdained by women, because of the weak side of these qualities: they lacked any might and independence. That is why Marston wanted to create a female character having the strength of Superman and the soft, powerful qualities of a woman.

For the women who went out to work for the first time in their lives during the Second World War, because their men were fighting in that war, this work represents a new sense of might and self-reliance. Wonder Woman is a warrior princess of the Amazons (based on the Amazons of Greek my- theology) She is known in her homeland as Diana of Themyscire. Paradise Island, home of the Amazons is a culture without men, with values such as honesty, beauty, peace, strength and self-reliance. Therefore, Wonder Woman perfectly fitted in with the new self-image of the1941 women.

I’ve been working on the series with Wonder Woman as the main character for 25 years. The first photo was taken in 1996. The last photo was taken in December 2020.
As a child there was a time when I read the Wonder Woman comics, and I completely merged into them. In 1996, I came across a Wonder Woman comic in Belgium, by chance. That was a real piece of nostalgia for me. And then I thought: I must do something with this. In due course, more and more photographs were added. Meanwhile, the Wonder Woman series has developed into an ongoing long-term project, which I will continue to work on.

Thus, besides the universal image of a woman as both a hero and ordinary female, the series has gained a personal dimension. The series additionally relates about my own developments as a woman, a mother and human being.

In the Wonder Woman series, I photograph the comic heroine as an anti-heroine. I place her in human situations where you would never find a super-hero, with a slight sense of (self) irony and melancholy. You can see her on the toilet; lonesome in a garret eating a cupcake; crying; as a mother bathing her daughter; anxiously cycling through the forest; cleaning with rubber gloves; full of passion or melancholy; having cravings for pickles during pregnancy; all of this in recognizable or unrecognizable everyday family situations.

The series is slightly mocking the American glory and perfection idea, but mainly expresses love for everything human, and utters sympathy for the ideas and values behind the comic character Wonder Woman: honesty, justice, love and strength.

About Susanne Middelberg

After completing a modern dance education at the Higher school for Arts in Arnhem, she graduated in 1998 from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, from the photography department. Susanne specializes in portrait and theater- dance photography. Susanne had a solo exhibition with her Wonder woman serie at Soho Photo gallery, New York and she exposed her portraits in Boston at the Fence. Her work was also exhibited a.o. at Deelen Art in Rotterdam, Reflex Modern Art Gallery in Amsterdam, Smelijk en Stokking and gallery Hollandsche Maagd in Gouda and galerie Fontana Fortuna in Amsterdam. Susanne won several awards a.o. the Canon Master, first place of International Photo Awards, Category Self-Portrait and Gold for the Trierenberg Super Circuit.

Susannes work concerns people and their feelings. Being human, concerning life. She does not want to make a statement, or be judgmental, but show how she is touched by people, and what she sees in them. If someone can be true to their nature, and not pretend to be anything other them themselves it is almost always beautiful. Then people show their openness, vulnerability and love.That is what she wishes to voice in her work. [Official Website]

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Deadline: Monday, November 30, 2020
Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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