GREAT EXPECTATIONS - MISS AKEN
Nigerian photographer Jenevieve Aken (b. 1989) is fascinated by how events shape characters. Her series Great Expectations takes inspiration from the eponymous novel by Charles Dickens, in which the character Miss Havisham has been jilted at the altar, and because of this suffers a mental breakdown and becomes a man-hater, having a great impact on wider society.
In her series, Aken reinterprets this story in contemporary Nigerian society. She explains that Africa places a huge emphasis on marriage as an institution and this leads to pressure and stress on many women, some of whom are successful but still feel unfulfilled until married.
By photographing herself in a haunted ambience, apparently obsessed with traditional wedding attributes, Aken conveys feelings of melancholia and exposes the soaring tension and loneliness that woman experience while trying to live up to expectations in gender, sexuality and social roles in Africa.