Profiles in Courage: On Kava Gorna’s “Butt Book”

The photographer on her obsession with shooting women’s denim-clad derrieres for her new book 100 Cheeks.

Georgia Hilmer

“I’ve been shooting booties for years,” declared New York-based Polish photographer, Kava Gorna, who released her first book, 100 Cheeks this week which features the denim-clad derrieres of fifty women, some of them prominent personalities like Jemima Kirke and Rebecca Dayan.

Gorna kept the casting natural, shooting close friends, acquaintances, and girls who caught her photographic eye at parties. “I could have done a story about the perfect booty and the perfect jeans, but that’s not what this is,” Gorna explained. Shot over a course of five years, each pair of jeans is a reflection of their owner, a physical referent of each of their personalities. “Take Jemima’s,” began Gorna, referring to her friend who is featured alongside the likes of Chelsea Leyland, India Menuez, Vashtie Kola, and Pamela Love, to name a few. “Hers are so ripped up. She’s a cool girl who does her thing, and doesn’t care if there’s a rip here or there. You have to be a certain person to wear your jeans a certain way.”

Kirke’s butt stayed on Gorna’s mind for a year after she’d shot the actress for an editorial.

“Jemima changed into her jeans after the shoot and I thought they were amazing. I took a photo and we both posted it on our Instagram,” said Gorna, who declined to say her age. “A year later when I was working on the book, I texted her and asked if I could reshoot her booty, and she said yes.”

While the book, which will be sold at Saturdays NYC and Urban Outfitters, is a reflection of the many lives lived by these women in their Levi’s, Kava’s personal relationship with each woman is palpably evident, especially since she chose to shoot at locations that were personal to each subject – an apartment in Bed Stuy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the bathroom at the Boom Boom Room, and a bodega in Coney Island.

“We went to Coney Island late at night and it was super cold,” she recalled of shooting artist Tizia Sertimer. “We were really hungry, and nothing was open, so we went into a bodega. I thought the colors of all the packaged foods were amazing and I loved the white light. Tizia in the bodega ended up being my favorite picture of the ones we shot.”

Then there was Marie-Sophie Lockhart, a waitress at her neighborhood restaurant, whom Gorna met after a male table-mate begged her to, proclaiming Marie “had the most beautiful butt he had ever seen. So I started talking to her. She does patchwork on jeans. I met her because of her booty,” explained Gorna.

Gorna’s attempt to reclaim control of the female image through a sexually empowered lens, has been realized. Here, we get a series of women who stand confident before the camera in jeans in which they have weathered life’s many storms, each flaunting their own unique sexuality. “I get exhausted looking at images that aren’t created for women,” she said. “I think it’s interesting to shoot women in a way that’s more intimate and demure and concerned with personality.” Mission accomplished.

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