The summary of the second workshop at Dillon+Lee Gallery (USA), PART 1

image by Karen Knorr

The second research workshop Fast Forward2: Women in Photographyfunded with The Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant, took place at Dillon+Lee Gallery in New York on October 12-13, 2017, hosted by gallerist Diana Lee.

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.


LESLEY MARTIN, Creative Director and Publisher of The PhotoBook Review, Aperture Foundation (USA)

Lesley Martin was talking briefly about Aperture, which was founded by 3 women in a collective of 6 individuals and have had strong women behind the scenes ever since in individuals like Nancy Newhall, Carole Kismaric, and Melissa Harris. She spoke a bit about the vigilance required to maintain an inclusive list of books, and about forthcoming projects, including a book and exhibition project in the works on Japanese women photographers from the 1990s.

Slide from Lesley Martin’s presentation


SABEENA GADIHOKE, Professor, Video and Television Production at the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia (India)

All ‘Dressed Up’:  Costume, Fashion and Identity in the Photographs of Homai Vyarawalla

“India’s first woman press photographer, Vyarawalla was largely known for her press photographs documenting important events and personalities in the 1950s and 1960s. In this speculative paper, I explore a section of Homai Vyarawalla’s negatives that feature middle and upper class women dressing up at social events. What would ‘Nehruvian India’ – a period mostly defined through post independence mainstream politics – look like if it were viewed through the lens of women’s fashion and other forms of masquerade? If ‘dressing up’ could be seen as different from ‘dressing’- a more utilitarian attitude towards clothes, what could Vyarwalla’s many pictures of fashion shows and costume contests tell us about gender, race and identity at this historical moment? And, what could these images that straddle photo- journalism as well as a form of fashion photography reveal about her practice?”

Image: from archive of Homai Vyarawalla


GCOTYELWA MASHIQA, AKO Foundation Assistant Curator of Photography at the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography at Zeitz MOCAA (South Africa)

History and Memorialisation: The Absence of Black Women’s Bodies in Historical Archives.

The South African artists discussed in this presentation use the medium of photography as a tool of empowerment and to critique how it was previously a tool of epistemic violence. They rewrite the narrative of the historical archive and sites of memory, critique the narratives represented by colonial and apartheid historical monuments, reveal the contradictions inherent within a post-colonial culture, reclaim an ignored narrative from the history of slavery to create fictional narratives that represent an alternative notion of the archive, and which interrogates the archival form. The alternative archive is the space for subversion and an intervention to the prejudice and imperialist narrative that had prevailed in the past and still exist presently. These artists are re-constructing narratives of representation or evaluating a misrepresentation of the past.

Sethembile Msezane, Chapungu-The Day Rhodes Fell, public performance, 2015


ANNU PALAKUNNATHU MATTHEW, Artist / Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island and Director of the Center for the Humanities (USA)

Presentation on her own work and her interests of being transnational / Migration of Memory.

Matthew’s recent work is a striking blend of still and moving imagery that takes advantage of the uncertainty between the “reality” of a photograph and digital manipulation to prompt the viewer to reexamine and reconsider parallel identities and histories. “Open Wound – Stories of Partition – India & Pakistan” explores the powerful appeal of family photographs through ephemeral photo-animations combined with oral history, and how they shape identity and memory.

From series ‘An Indian from India’, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew


DR. PATRICIA AZEVEDO, Professor in the Visual Arts, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil)

Games of Distance and Proximity

Patricia Azevedo talked about ‘collaboration’ in caring out specific projects that, in affinity with their artistic propositions, demand to build a field of action and critical debate using other strategies of fomentation, circulation and commercialization involving different media and cultural agents.

Slide from Particia Azevedo’s presentation


MARIA KAPAJEVA, Artist / Lecturer at UCA (Estonia/UK)

An exhibition ‘Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear’: voices of women in her work

Maria presented her the most recent and the biggest so far exhibition Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear (Estonia, 2017) where she explores a social heritage of a closed textile mill back in her hometown in combination with her personal stories.

Cutbacks (2017), collage from found photograph, acrylic


LUCY GALLUN, Assistant Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art (USA)

An upcoming exhibition ‘Being: New Photography 2018’, which opens in March 2018

Lucy Gallun discussed some works and themes explored in an upcoming exhibition she is organizing, Being: New Photography 2018 (opens in March). The majority of the artists in the exhibition are women. The works respond to a range of issues and tactics including interrogations of traditional modes of portraiture in the history of photography, the use of surrogates or masks as replacements for the body, tensions between privacy and exposure, and the agency of the sitter and of the artist.

ESA EPSTEIN, Director of sepia EYE gallery (USA)

Esa Epstein presented her most recent project on the building of the Jodhpur Photography Museum and the oral history project particularly geared towards women who have worked with the palace.

Image from Esa Epstein’s presentation. The Jodhpur Photography Museum.


LORIE NOVAK, Artist / Professor of Photography & Imaging at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Associate Faculty at The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (USA)

 How can I, as an artist, intersect with this social moment?

ABOVE THE FOLD, installation in progress in Novak’s studio