In the Now: Gender and Nation in Europe, Selections from the Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl Photography Collection at Brooklyn Museum

In the Now unites nearly fifty women artists who are resisting traditional ideas of gender and nationality, as well as of photography itself. The first museum survey of photography-based works by women artists born or based in Europe, this exhibition interrogates the continent’s legacies of nationalism and patriarchal power structures—which continue to shape everyday life, particularly for women.

In the Now highlights the expansive nature of the Sir Mark Fehrs Haukohl Photography Collection at the Brooklyn Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Made entirely after 2000, the exhibition’s more than seventy artworks offer a window into the first decades of the twenty-first century. In the section titled “Gender,” photographers such as Bettina von Zwehl and Elina Brotherus contend with (mis)representations of women’s bodies and experiences, bucking against oppressive beauty standards and the male gaze. “Nation” unpacks the promises—and realities—of contemporary Europe and the ongoing fallout of European nationalism and colonialism. The controlled explosion in Sarah Pickering’s Landmine (2005), for example, underscores the relative peace in England as British troops supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And in “Photography,” women artists upend this male-dominated medium with experimental approaches—as in Shirana Shahbazi’s Farsh-13-2006 (2006), a Vermeer-inspired photographic portrait translated onto a carpet hand-knotted in her native Iran. Together the works defy outdated definitions of a woman, an artist, a nation, and a photograph.

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