In 1980, Anita Corbin trekked around London capturing revealing street photography along the way. Venturing into the city’s pubs and clubs, she captured portraits of 56 women from different local subcultures. Her searching culminated into a project called Visible Girls, which documents the various attitudes and attire of groups like the mods, punks, rockabillies, rastas, and others who defied mainstream sensibilities. The women appear confident and proud as they pose in groups of two outside of bathroom stalls and darkened street corners.
Visible Girls was a touring exhibition in the 1980s and 1990s, but eventually, Corbin lost touch with the women in her photos. Thanks to the power of social media, however, some of the women eventually started to resurface in Corbin’s life; BuzzFeed had published a collection of the images in 2014, and it was the catalyst for their reunion—many of “lost girls” were now found.
Finding the subjects was something that Corbin had always hoped for. “It was a bit of a dream that I had,” Corbin explained. “I did try to do it in 1991 but I couldn’t find any of them. All the numbers had changed or they’d moved away, so I let it go dormant for about 25 years.”
Since making contact, Corbin has interviewed and rephotographed many of the women as they are now—and even facilitated gatherings between friends who have lost touch. “So they’re now reconnected through the Visible Girls project, which in a way is what it’s all about,” Corbin reports. “You know, rekindling those old friendships, those strong bonds of young women, that idea of ‘me and her against the world.'”
With the fantastic development in Visible Girls, Corbin launched an exhibition that marks its progress. Called Visible Girls: Revisited, it features then and now photos of the women along with recordings and interviews from both 1981 and the present. It will open at the Phoenix Gallery in Exeter from Friday, November 17 to Thursday, December 21, 2017.
As of now, not all the women from the project have been found. If you're one of them, Corbin invites you to contact her to help complete Visible Girls: Revisited.