A new exhibition, Into The Light, spotlights the rare and undervalued work of female-identifying photographers from the last century.

A new exhibition, Into The Light, spotlights the rare and undervalued work of female-identifying photographers from the last century.

Although women photographers have not received the same recognition or opportunities given to men in the field, their achievements over the past one 150 years are now being celebrated in Into the Light, a group exhibition featuring the works of Julia Margaret Cameron, Barbara Morgan, Ruth Orkin, Arlene Gottfried, Kia LaBeija, and Emilie Regnier, among others, now on view at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, New York, through August 3, 2018.

“I’ve been thinking about the history of women in photography and how they picture themselves and other women, and the evolution of that, and wondering to myself how that has changed,” Cooney explains.

As Cooney began to investigate, he discovered a continuity that connected women photographers from all walks of life, bridging time and space through what could be described as the female gaze. The looking is not only of the artist upon their subject but also the expression their subject projects back into the world, one that Cooney saw extend from Julia Margaret Cameron’s 1874 portrait, ‘Isabel Bateman in the Character of Queen Henrietta Maria’ to Kia Labeija’s 2015 self-portrait ‘Eleven.

Ruth Orkin. American Girl in Italy, 1951

Ruth Orkin. American Girl in Italy, 1951

 

“I think the female gaze is a combination of observation and representation. There is a serenity about the Cameron image but there is also a determination about it. She is looking directly at the camera, very stoic yet very feminine,” Cooney explains. “In the photograph of Kia wearing a red evening gown to the doctor’s office, her gaze is very similar.”

“There are so many different stories in the photographs in this show. For example, Barbara Morgan’s picture of Martha Graham is very powerful: she is caught inside this cloth garment and it looks like she is struggling to get out. Then there are photographs by Annie Tritt of transgender teens who are now presenting themselves as girls. Annie approached them with deep sensitivity, understanding, and acceptance in order to make these photographs.”

Emilie Regnier. Danielle Babou, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2014

Emilie Regnier.
Danielle Babou, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2014

 

For Cooney, curating Into the Light was an act of support and solidarity with women from all walks of life, particularly those hailing from marginalised and vulnerable communities. The exhibition includes Joyce Culver’s black and white portraits of lesbian couples from the ’70s and ’80s, taken just a few years after the Gay Liberation Movement began.

“I suspect there was some closetedness going on; it was still risky to be out in public, you could lose your job, be harassed, or worse. In all of the photographs in the show, the photographers are conscious of how they are creating and putting images of women out into the world,” Cooney adds.

“The issue of women, specifically women of colour and queer women, is on my mind because of the political situation in the world. I really struggled with coming up with a title, until I came upon Into the Light. I think of it as an awakening and coming into one’s own, an enlightenment, and a place of life and joy.”

Arlene Gottfried. Girl in Red Dress, 1990’s

Arlene Gottfried. Girl in Red Dress, 1990’s

Joyce Culver. Self-Portrait with Connie, 1978

Joyce Culver. Self-Portrait with Connie, 1978

Annie Tritt. Lill, 12, Transgender Girl, North Central California

Annie Tritt. Lill, 12, Transgender Girl, North Central California

Pixy Liao. Debut

Pixy Liao. Debut

Emilie Regnier. Brigitte Adjoua, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2014

Emilie Regnier. Brigitte Adjoua, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 2014

Nydia Blas From “The Girls Who Spun Gold”, c.2016

Nydia Blas
From “The Girls Who Spun Gold”, c.2016

Kia Labeija. Eleven, 2015

Kia Labeija. Eleven, 2015

Annie Tritt. Azaj, 17, Transgender Girl, Oakland, CA

Annie Tritt. Azaj, 17, Transgender Girl, Oakland, CA

Pixy Liao. Self Portrait

Pixy Liao. Self Portrait

 

Into the Light is on display at the Daniel Cooney Fine Art, New York until August 3, 2018. 

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