Looking at How Women (Photographers) Work: A Review by Suryanandini Narain

Suryanandini Narain (Assistant Professor in Visual Studies, School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University) wrote a review of Fast Forward: How Do Women Work? conference (Tate Modern, 2019) for Critical Collective journal (India):

“The title of a recent conference at the Tate Modern, London (30th November – 2nd December, 2019), organised by Fast Forward, is posed as a seemingly direct question ‘How Do Women Work?’ The answers however, are multiple, complicated and varied, allowing no generalisations, data or statistics, to be established. Women’s work, so often invisible, unpaid and unacknowledged does not easily speak of itself, let alone its methods which remain contingent, un institutionalised and equally invisible. It takes women to consciously halt, organise and reflect on themselves as they ruminate on the details of their own labour. Feminist academics have made keen note that there has been a grave absence of famous women writers, artists, and academics from a male dominated global historical narrative. Linda Nochlin primarily investigated why there have been no great women artists in her famous essay (1971), and pinned it to the lack of social access and education. A film called ‘The Wife’ (2017) directed by Bjorn L. Runge with Glenn Close in the lead as the ghost writer for her Nobel Laureate husband is an example of how gendered literary history is. It does, however, challenge Nochlin’s perception by stating that women have always produced work, and it is society that has failed to acknowledge them publicly. The absence of socially acclaimed ‘greatness’ or ‘fame’, did not mean the lack of women artists themselves. An ongoing exhibition titled The Pre Raphaelite Sisters at the National Portrait Gallery in London positions women artists of 1850s – 1900s as being representative of the talent, education and production of art, similarly questioning historicisation more than the lack of production itself….”

The full text is available as PDF.