The first research workshop Fast Forward2: Women in Photography, funded with The Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant, took place at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on July 24th and 25th 2017, hosted by Dr. Patricia Azevedo.
Presentations and open discussion took place over the two-day workshop around ideas and themes concerned with the work and position of women photographers today. The summaries of presentations (part two) are below.
MAURICIO LISSOVSKY, Visual historian / Screenwriter / Professor at School of Communication, UFRJ (Brazil)
Mauricio Lissovsky spoke about the “double nature” of women in photography as producers and subjects. He was not simply looking at taste of preferences of women and noted that many of these stories of women photographers are omitted from the main histories of photography. Kodak enabled women and domestic photography was one of the “back doors” that allowed women in to photography. The histories of women on photography in Brazil are quite different to the histories from Europe and the European idea of “The New Woman” did not automatically transfer to Brazil. he discussed the work of Hertha Wambacher, Marietta Blau and Gabriela Barreto Lemos amongst others.
RENATA MARQUEZ, Curator / Editor of PISEAGRAMA Magazine, Professor at UFMG (Brazil)
PISEAGRAMA magazine is a biannual and thematic magazine on public spaces – existing, urgent and imaginary – treated under various fields of knowledge, among which the visual arts. We understand art as a form of knowledge, approaching mainly those practices that are interested in the extra-disciplinary field. For this presentation, we highlighted photographic acts in the seven years of the magazine that interrogates the production of public space, realizing the importance of dialogue with other cosmologies. Starting with a photo that was the cover of issue number 08: a portrait of the late 1950s of an indigenous woman, probably of the Yawalapiti group, by Paulo Manhães. This photo testifies the perverse colonial misunderstanding and the systematic epistemicide committed on the side of the abyssal line responsible for separating subjects and objects, sciences and beliefs, true and false, cultures and natures.
Finally we presented a photo of another indigenous woman, half a century later, but this time at the other side of the camera: a 2010 photo by Suely Maxakali, an important figure among the Maxakali group, among the indigenous filmmakers, and among the masters invited to teach in the Federal University of Minas Gerais… that is to say: a woman diplomat between worlds.
JULIA REBOUÇAS, Art Curator / Researcher and Critic, Co-curator of 32nd Bienal de Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Based on Julia Rebouças’ own professional biography from 2006 to 2017, this presentation discussed possibilities within the field of the contemporary art curatorship in Brazil. It started from her early contacts with the contemporary art scene, when she run the editorial project Dois Pontos in Pernambuco state, and moved along her career as stabilished curator, as part of the Inhotim Institute’s curatorial team until 2015, in Minas Gerais state. Apart from her works at Inhotim, Julia also emphasized her participation as co-curator of the 9th Mercosul Biennial, and as part of the 18th and 19th SESC International Festival_Videobrasil curatorial committee, in São Paulo. Her experience as co-curator of the 32nd São Paulo Biennial, entitled Incerteza Viva, and organised between 2015 and 2016, was also highlighted in her presentation. Pinned on these above mentioned projects, Julia drew the role curators play when it comes to seek for gender equity, considering both areas of dealing with collections and organising exhibitions. Speaking about transformative and experimental practices in the field of the Arts, Julia used as an example the work of Frederico Morais (critic, curator and artist) in the 1960s and 1970s, which constitutes the subject of her current PhD research.
CIDA MOURA, Post-doctoral fellow in Cognitive Semiotics and New Media / Professor at UFMG (Brazil)
Cida Moura promoted the notion of an intersectional perspective: semiosis de-coloniality and plural knowledge. The profession of photography, until recently has been relatively expensive and women were put off from becoming involved in it because of a lack of resources. As the only black woman presenting today she insisted on making women of colour the subject for her discussion. She spoke about black women photographers and photographed black women. Moura cited the importance of figuring the black woman in society through photography as without picturing black women the threat of absence leads to a waste of social experience. All oppression is connected and it is important that we understand that intersectionality describes the way that all discriminatory systems create inequality. What kind of world would we like to have? How do we depopulate (the world) of colonial style imagery?
SUSAN COLLINS, Artist / Professor at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL (UK)
Territory and Time
The presentation touched on earlier works including Litter (1994), Touched (1996) and Tate in Space (2002) to show the trajectory from site and situation specific interventions to my more recent networked landscape images, which use time, transmission, and the elements as their material and photography (in the form of remote network cameras) in a method I developed of constructing images over time. I showed images from the earliest experiments with this technique in Transporting Skies (2002) as well as other works including Fenlandia (2004), Glenlandia (2005), and Seascape (2009) to the most recent iteration, LAND (2016-7) where a camera was located in Jerusalem looking out over the West bank towards the Jordanian Mountains. I discussed the work as a kind of ‘open system’. A system inhabited and activated by light, day, night, weather, the seasons – each of these analogue variables conspiring to produce an infinite variety of unique images. Hours compress and time shifts enabling a continuous re-presentation of otherwise familiar subjects.
MARILENE RIBEIRO, Artist / PhD candidate at UCA (Brazil/UK)
Marilene Ribeiro presents her current work
Dead Water – documentary project on the impact of dams on nature and people, which has involved collaboration at its every stage. It consists of her PhD at the University for the Creative Arts/UK (institution that Ribeiro got to know when engaged in a previous collaborative project: Collective Body). Dead Water has also been undertaken in a partnership with the Brazilian Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) and is sponsored by the Brazilian CNPq scholarship programme. Most importantly, Dead Water is a collaborative visual storytelling project in which Ribeiro conceives together with families that have been affected by dam projects in Brazil a narrative on the damages hydropower plants have inflicted on environment and communities. This emerges from portraits of these families taken by Ribeiro and co-directed by every sitter (subjects suggest a location, an object to stand along with them on the photograph, and modifications along the shoot in order to best represent their own feelings/experiences regarding the dam). Ribeiro also stitches together with these portraits further material provided by participants, like testimonials, vernacular photographs, drawings, and folk songs.
DIANA LEE, Co-Director of Dillon+Lee Gallery (USA)
Writer and gallerist Diana Seo Hyung Lee gave a talk on how as an immigrant from South Korea growing up in Queens, New York she has come to be involved in the art world. She touches on the various influential alternative projects and spaces that were relevant to her, which has eventually impacted the way that she runs her gallery Dillon + Lee. She talks about the beginnings of a photography program within her gallery through the artist Cristina De Middel all the way up to working with contemporary photographer and video artist Mami Kosemura. Since the gallery has transitioned from occupying a ground floor retail space to a residential townhouse, the projects and exhibitions have shifted, leaning more towards site specific installations and experiences where the gallerist works quite closely with the artist as a curator and producer.
AZU NWAGBOGU, Curator / Director of The African Artists’ Foundation / Director of Lagos Photo Festival and Art Base Africa journal (Nigeria). Presentation was done together with MARIELLA FRANZONI, Independent Researcher and Curator (Spain / South Africa).
Azu Nwagbogu and Mariella Franzoni presented women photographers and the self-portrait in Africa. Their talk exposed work by young and emerging photographers alongside some of the more established names such as Zanelli Muholi. The Lagos Photography Festival, where Azu is the Director has developed the female artists’ platform as a means of social emancipation for women in Nigeria. Women artists in Africa are using the medium of photography to reshape the way an audience looks at Africa and how Africa looks at itself. They stressed the relevance of the millennials generation which makes up a large proportion of African society. Self-portraiture has emerged as a significant tool for women photographers to use to make their points. Other artists/photographers included Jenevieve Aken, Nobukho Nqaba, Ayana V. Jackson, Lhola Amira, Phumzile Khanyile, Tony Gum and Loza Maleombho. The significance of the self-portrait is embroiled in the empowerment of the self and most specifically for women to give themselves a socio political agency to expand the representation of themselves.