“Being a woman in a field dominated by men isn’t easy.”
By Alex Greenberger
“One of the great things about working for 40 years and being 190 years old is you get to see history,” the photographer Tina Barney, who is 72 years old, told a rapt audience last week. She paused for a bit, then continued, “You see so much in 40 years, and yet not much has happened at all.”
Barney was referring to the size of her colorful photographs, which, back in their day, were printed at large sizes rarely seen in the art world, but it was a statement that also could’ve applied to the whole of the panel at which she was speaking: “History/Her Stories: Photographs by Women” at the AIPAD Photography Show in New York, a talk about how female photographers can grapple with—and change—history through their work. Her fellow panelists—Sofia Borges, Sam Contis, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Liz Deschenes, as well as Museum of Modern Art photography curator Sarah Herman Meister—were more optimistic that women photographers have come a long way. All of them seemed to agree on one point: being a woman in a field dominated by men isn’t easy.
Contis, whose pictures of an all-male school in California are currently included in MoMA’s “New Photography” show, agreed that taking pictures can be a way to bring the public’s attention to rarely seen subjects. Like Frazier, she’s working in a tradition dominated mainly by men. “We know Carlton Watkins, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston,” Contis said. All of them have, like her, traveled to the American West and photographed what they saw. But, she said, regretfully, “there aren’t many women in [this] environment.” Her images of students performing the role of cowboys—putting on hats, trying to understand their masculinity—is one way of “looking backward and forward at the same time.”
Alongside Contis’s photographs at MoMA are Borges’s more conceptual ones, which deal with the nature of images. “What is reality?” Borges asked the audience, rhetorically, noting that she “never really understood the connection between meaning and depiction.” In an attempt to better understand the connection, Borges, like Contis, has looked to history. She described a visit to the caves in Chauvet, France, where millennia-old paintings of animals rush along the walls. The paintings made her cry, she said, because she knew that she and the artists who made them were both engaged in the same quest: to find out how pictures can seem like reality, if presented in a certain way.
Read the full story HERE >>> Source: ArtNews ‘We Need to Teach Women in Photography’: At AIPAD, Female Photographers Meditate on Their Roles in the Art World –