The summary of the fourth workshop at The Finnish Museum of Photography (Finland), PART 1

image by Virve Laustela

The fourth research workshop Fast Forward2: Women in Photographyfunded with The Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant, took place at The Finnish Museum of Photography on May 14 – 15, 2018, hosted by Elina Heikka, Director of the Museum.

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 one) are below.

Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (Professor in Exhibition Studies and Spatiality at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland)

Feminist curating: Women curating women?

What do we talk about when we talk about feminist curating? Is it talking or acting? Rastenberger observes some of recent practices of feminist curating and reminds herself of a job to be done — of a need to move forward until an equal (photographic art) world is reached. 

Slide from Rastenberger’s presentation


Charlotte Langhorst (Assistant Director and Curator, African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria)

Time Has Gone. A female version of LagosPhoto Festival, 2018

Since 2010 the annual LagosPhoto Festival has been establishing a community for contemporary photography, which unites local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across all of Africa. The festival has become an unique platform in the region. This year’s edition Time Has Gone will be curated by female curators and will exclusively  showcase female artists, who visually explore concepts of temporality and investigate how different layers of time interact with each other (e.g. historically, politically, scientifically, culturally). The concept will be shifting away from conventional female agendas and confronting the subject matter from diverse perspectives. The curatorial approach is currently outstanding in West Africa as photography by female artists is often limited to thematic stereotypes: violence, abuse, sexuality, migration or motherhood. LagosPhoto 2018 aims to create new narratives, claiming a contemporary agency.

Slide from Langhorst’s presentation


Nathalie Angles (Executive Director and Founder, Residency Unlimited (RU), USA)

Residency Unlimited (RU). A unconventional model artists-in-residency model

Nathalie Anglès discussed how Residency Unlimited (RU), a Brooklyn based residency program sets itself apart from the conventional model of the studio program (defined through occupation of space) through a collaborative approach with a core group of partners and the pooling of resources for the creation of customised residencies.

Maria Gourieva (Assistant Professor, St.-Petersburg State Institute for Culture, Russia)

Odalisque, Sailor, Indian: performance in late Soviet private photography

Soviet photography is a territory of stereotypes that are a shadow of stereotypes of ‘the Soviet’: things generally known about Soviet photography are, avant-garde of the 1920’s, the propaganda photography in the media, persecution of photographers whose work would not comply with the socialist realism style , and corrections of the truth in photographs, or ‘the commissar vanishes’. All of this creates an idea of Soviet photography being locked up in a tight space between propaganda and the terror of saying more than allowed. I would like to shed light on a practice of private photography that has not been researched yet. It is the practice of dressing up for a photograph, in order to create an image of oneself that will have no other life than in the picture and that has no reason in real life than making a picture. My work is based on my family archive (but is planned to expand), and my aim for the workshop is to develop the methodology of research.

Nelli Palomäki (Artist, Finland)

Empathy in the photographic practice

Empathy might well be the most necessary tool for a portrait photographer. It is also more often referred as a feminine quality. What empathy means to me as a photographer? And how a trust and a possible long-lasting relationship between me and the people I photograph is being built?


Image by Nelli Palomäki, Zane and August (2016), from the series ‘Shared’

Sarah Pickering (Artist, UK)

Sarah Pickering, artist, spoke about how she has started to speak her work about differently she has been a mother, she spoke about her own upbringing, (in 1970s in the midst of the cold war), in a working-class family in the North of England in a mining town. The earliest works she showed was the training town where riots were practiced. She works in a slow considered manner and is interested in dramatic things like explosions, riot, fire etc. She feels that people have difficulty working out her gender from the nature of her practice. The work in the fire training series highlights the way that these organisations objectify the victims of society. She went on to speak about the impoverished position that artists often find themselves in when big institutions aren’t able to pay fees or support artists to come to the showings of their work. Her latest work explores the relationship between the gun world and the photography world – shared language systems.

Penelope Umbrico (Artist/Photographer; Core Faculty at MFA Photography, Video and Related Media, School of Visual Arts, NYC, USA)

Penelope Umbrico talked about her multi-disciplinary photo-based works that explore the ever-changing technologies of image making, and the ever-increasing production and consumption of images on the web. Employing methods of appropriation, extraction, installation and intervention, she utilizes search engines, web platforms, common software applications, and imaging technologies to focus on photographic practices and the cultures that produce them. As she repurposes and re-casts these images, she puts them to work to question what they mean, why they are shared, where the investment is, and what this points to.