A searing chronicle of society and race in the 1960s
From its stark white title on a black cover to its final text predicting riots in Washington, D.C., Leonard Freed’s photobook Black in White America (1968) is a blistering and prescient vision of race in America. Compiled at the height of racial tension and civil rights demonstrations, bracketed by the 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, Freed’s volume is a penetrating journey through a vast terra incognita for white folks, depicting, in words and images, the other side of the tracks from Harlem to New Orleans to the Sea Islands of South Carolina.
In Eritrea, a young photographer pursues a cinematic vision
Eli Durst spent his summers during high school and college assembling asylum applications at the Austin immigration clinic where his mother works as a legal advocate, often for refugees from Eritrea. Durst took passport photographs and met dozens of people who had crossed the U.S. border from Mexico after landing there by circuitous journeys and illegal means, fleeing Eritrea’s authoritarian government and standstill economy.
Through photography, video, performance, and cultural criticism, Martha Rosier has rigorously probed a host of sociopolitical questions with signature intelligence and wit. From her classic video Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), which humorously critiqued women’s role in society, to her canny photomontages that juxtapose scenes of American domestic comforts with images of foreign wars, she has used her artwork to shine a hard light on urgent realities.
A collective of artists reimagines contemporary Greece
Art flourishes in times of adversity. In the charged political landscape of Athens, austerity measures and the prevailing division in the European Union have taken an irreversible toll on the city often referred to as the cradle of democracy.
More than one hundred years before Laura Mulvey coined the phrase “the male gaze” in the 1970s, pioneers of photography such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, were fully aware of what it meant to author one’s own image.
David Campany, Marta Gili, Julie Jones, and Roxana Marcoci on the women who dominated photography between the wars
David Campany: You have all been involved with exhibitions and publications dedicated to women photographers who began their working lives between the wars. The 1920s and 1930s, particularly in Europe, still loom large in any history of photography because of the flowering of various modernisms and avant-gardes, and, of course, the expansion of the illustrated mass media and the photographic book.
In the 1970s, as the struggle for gender equality transformed the United States and Europe, pioneering women artists pushed to reframe the female body.
It seems that it’s time, once again, to consider the naked truths revealed by second-wave feminist art. In 2007, a year of women in the arts was spearheaded by WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, a traveling exhibition of women’s art from the 1970s organized by Connie Butler for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
"Sex is a far darker power than feminism has admitted.” Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, 1990 Long before the flames of the feminist culture wars of the 1980s ignited over fractious issues such as pornography and the politics of erotic representation, Cosey Fanni Tutti navigated this thorny landscape through her art practice.
“For years we as lesbian-feminists have been fighting male pornography,” a reader named Donna from Washington, D.C., wrote. “It shocks and abhors me to find that women have stooped to the same methods.” To scan the letters pages of the San Francisco-based magazine On Our Backs, published from 1984 to 2005, is to find lesbian erotica thrown into relief against the backdrop of the feminist sex wars.
As a young woman, the conceptual artist Gillian Wearing posed and vamped in photo booths. In the footsteps of Andy Warhol and the rest of the world, she subsequently transitioned to Polaroids. Like today’s selfies, Wearing’s Polaroids often capture her outstretched arm in the act of triggering the shot.
Renée Cox knows a thing or two about style. A former fashion model for Glamour and photographer for Essence, Cox had an early career in New York defined by the rapid pace of commercial assignments. In her thirties, turning to fine art photography, she began the first of several self-portrait series, portraying a multitude of stylized, powerful, and iconoclastic black women.
In the early to mid-1990s, a handful of young women elbowed their way into Japan’s traditional photography world, which was dominated almost exclusively by established male masters and their acolytes. Young phenoms like Yurie Nagashima won critical acclaim with photographs that often turned the camera on themselves, their lives, their loves, and their immediate surroundings.
In Hannah Starkey’s recent pictures, London’s East End seems less made up of concrete and steel than conjured from reflections, graphic projections, and the intensity of compressed space and glowing color. The purposefully anonymous women in them—silhouetted by a nightclub marquee, shaded by a shock of pink hair—are integral to the visual world they inhabit.
For a woman living today, nostalgia strikes me as a WTF move. I mean, helloooo ladies! Women are better off in the twenty-first century than we ever were before. Many, but still not all of us, enjoy a host of rights and freedoms that were unavailable even during our mothers’ youths.
The inhabitant of this one-bedroom Munich apartment treated his living space as a display for the arrangement of a vast collection. In his personal Wunderkammer, every shelf was stuffed with books and DVDs, every inch of wall space was covered with images—cut-outs from magazines and newspapers as well as personal photographs, but also matchboxes, receipts, and other ephemera that all served to display a private passion.
In 1971, Linda Nochlin famously asked in the title of an essential essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” Lamenting the meager representation of women in art, she declared: “There are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cézanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even, in very recent times, for de Kooning or Warhol.”
What does photography offer the trans feminism movement?
She is striding down the middle of the empty street. She is striding down the street flanked by palm trees. She is striding down the street in a gray dress and strappy, red, open-toed shoes. She is striding down the street coming toward us. She is striding down the street holding a brick in one hand.
In his endearingly titled book Thumbelina: The Culture and Technology of Millennials (2014), the philosopher Michel Serres reflects upon his college-age students, who, for him, embody a new technological order. Not only do they communicate and relate in new ways, but their bodies are decidedly different—their heads are quite literally in their hands.
Talking openly and publicly about abortion is one of Western society’s most enduring taboos. Even in the few countries where access to abortion is not restricted, attempts to raise consciousness about abortion invariably are met with clenched fists and racing pulses, with most people presenting fully developed, strong views that render any civil discussion futile, if not impossible.
Farah Al Qasimi started taking pictures a long way from home. Born in Abu Dhabi and raised in the United Arab Emirates, she was a college student in New England when she took her first photography class. "I want to say the first image I successfully developed was of a street on a rainy day and it was totally unremarkable,” she recalls.
Another week, another video depicting the execution of a black man at the hands of a police officer goes viral. Another black man rendered absent: Walter Scott, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile ... when do I stop? And what of the black women who are prematurely disappeared?
What are the qualifications of being a feminist artist today? This is an impossible question, which is, in many ways, the point. One of the defining doctrines of third-wave feminism (or fourth-wave feminism, or postfeminism, or whatever you call our current moment) is its persistent unwillingness to be defined.
Euforia Latina. Bronx Underground. Autonomous queer spaces now disappeared from the American urban landscape. Rather than have them live on as remnants in the minds of those who found haven there, Elle Pérez insists on their presence. Her photographs are a form of counter-memory, a practice that philosopher Michel Foucault describes as actively reviving the past to resist historical obscurity and narrative death.
They were the women of the future: the lawyers, doctors, and police officers. But, in these satirical postcards, produced in France at the turn of the twentieth century, their professions are solely masculine. At the time, the French language itself, which considers nouns to be either feminine or masculine, couldn’t conceive of a female mayor or second lieutenant, or any job in the public interest.