The third research workshop Fast Forward2: Women in Photography, funded with The Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant, took place at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia islamia in New Delhi on February 27-28, 2018, hosted by Professor Sabeen Gadihoke.
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.
AZADEH AKHLAGHI (Artist, Iran)
Iranian women’s struggle for democracy during the 21st century
Spoke about her work and how she uses constructed imagery to make comment on Iranian life. The work is a response to the violence that has grown out of political difference. Azadeh deals with the history of this political violence dating back to 1906, constitutional Revolution of Iran. She reconstructs the scenes of political murders using actors, camera and lighting technicians. Each image is based on a long research process of excavation of stories behind the scenes of each image s. She went on to speak about The Mother of Tabriz, a large scale, highly detailed work made with hundreds of actors and depicting a shocking historical story – the invasion of Tabriz in 1911 – the Russians invading the city and the atrocities that followed. The work depicts the horror of the story in intricate detail and the construction of the image is influenced by history painting. She chose this moment in Iran’s violent history because of the story of two young boys who were murdered for being nationalists and a letter written by the mother, of these boys, who could not believe that they had been killed.
ANNA FOX (Artist / Professor of Photography, UCA, UK)
Presentation on the uses of image and text in her own work
Anna Fox spoke about the uses of image and text to create the satirical narrative of her projects introducing ideas about the social and/or political environment that the work emerges out of. She showed exerts from both past work and work in progress from, New Age, made in collaboration with artist Chinar Shah. The presentation included: Work Stations that looked at London office life in the late 1980’s; My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words, made in the late 1990’s, exploring a dysfunctional family relationship and New Age, a work in early progress, that uses images and text to look at the position for women in India today against a backdrop of a rapidly developing economy and the sense of aspiration that goes hand in hand with this.
NANDITA JAISHANKAR (Senior Manager, Programming & Communications, Serendipity Arts Festival and co-founder of PIX)
A Survey of Women Photographers in PIX
Nandita Jaishankar spoke about the history of PIX magazine of which she is a co-founder. PIX is a magazine that investigates and engages with photography in South Asia. It is an archive of the contemporary, it is not a survey, it looks at many different parts of a larger whole of photography from the region. She also spoke about the exhibition projects that have come out of the organisation of PIX. The spirit of collaboration, learning and conversation is vital to the PIX project. They have done numerous magazine issues working closely with other organisations such as Photo Circle in Nepal. Many of the published projects are concerned with the politics of identity and they have worked on issues with other partners in Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
FATHIMA NIZARUDDIN (Assistant Professor, AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, India)
As the course co-ordinater of the MA Convergent Journalism program at AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Fathima Nizaruddin shared the way in which the program introduces students to photography and the challenges involved in training aspiring journalists in photography. She presented the photo books which the students make under the guidance of her colleague Mr.Sharbendu De and discussed whether the gender which a particular student identifies with, shapes their relationship to the process of production of the photo book in any particular manner.
ANITA KHEMKA (Director of Photography at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts & Communication, India)
Anita Khemka has been looking at the practice of her students after they pass out of the institute. There are some interesting observations, particularly the correlation between their gender and their practice. She intended to dwell on this further and explore the limitations, hurdles, and challenges women face and how these limit or encourage their photographic practice. She looked at how many female students actually continue to make images and if they do, then what kind of photography they pursue. Also, how their position in society/family influences their photographic choices.
LOLA MAC DOUGAL (TBC, Jaipur festival)
PhD research on the contributions made by some Indian women photographers to the representation of privacy
The presentation offered a short overview of her doctoral research, which looked at the contributions made by some Indian women photographers to the representation of privacy. Indian women photographers have enjoyed a privileged access in their bid to depict privacy and that access can on occasions be attributed to their gender. It analysed the cases of pioneer women photographers with special attention to the phenomenon of zenana photography as well as three contemporary practitioners: Dayanita Singh, Gauri Gill and Ketaki Sheth.
AZU NWAGBOGU (Director / Curator, African Artists’ Foundation, Nigeria)
Female Representation in Contemporary African Photography
A snapshot overview of the history of art is almost an epigram devoid of black and in particular female black bodies. Where and when black females are represent it is often one that is exploited and subjugated. Contemporary art and photography have collaborated to push back and resist this history. Azu Nwagbogu presented work by Viviane Sassen, Tony Gum, Zanele Muholi and many other female partitioners.
ANNI WALLENIUS (Chief Collections Curator, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Finland)
Women photographers during Finnish Civil war in 1918
“2018 marks 100 years since the Finnish civil war, a bloody conflict that casted a long shadow over Finnish society. What is the photographic legacy of a brutal war like? What different positions and roles photographers, both professional and amateur, took in the conflict and its aftermath? The Finnish Museum of Photography is preparing its own memorial exhibition by looking closer at two female photographers’ intake on the 1918 war. The talk is a short introduction to these themes.”
G. ARUNIMA (Professor, Centre for Women’s Studies at School of Social Sciences / Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
How we may make the individual biographies of photographers, and the rapidly changing history of photographic practice
“My paper will be an attempt to think about how to frame the question about “women’s photography”. Here, my interest is to think about how we may make the individual biographies of photographers, and the rapidly changing history of photographic practice, speak to the enormous diversity of images that have been produced by women photographers. Given feminist theoretical caution about reifying ‘subject woman’, the interest here is to think about what one may do with the category of the ‘woman photographer’”.
CHRISTINE REDMOND (Photographer)
An insight in women’s photographic practice in Ireland
The social and political upheavals of recent years has demanded a new visual grammar and it is the diversity of contemporary women photographers response to these evolving conditions that this work represents. Christine Redmond presented some work of female practitioners, who are based in Ireland.