Photography is often touted as one of the most accessible and democratic mediums, making it a prime choice for those with little institutional support or access to funding. A new book edited by Luce Lebart and Marie Robert and published by Thames & Hudson explores the work of more than 300 women, many of whom were underrecognized during their lifetimes, and all of whose practices centered around the camera.
Recently translated from French by Ruth Taylor and Bethany Wright, the hefty A World History of Women Photographers is a corrective encyclopedia highlighting those with outsized impacts on the medium. The 504-page book pairs hundreds of images with text by an international roster of 160 women writers, granting similar space to each photographer and unearthing a chronically undervalued group. “With this collection of artists, it is not so much a matter of producing a counter-narrative or of deconstructing histories that already exist but of completing them. We have no desire to burn idols or topple statues, only to erect new ones, and to create a narrative that is richer and more fair,” the editors write in the introduction. “In other words, there is an urgent need to write another history, and to write it differently.”
Included in the chronologically organized text that spans from 1850 to today are luminaries like Carrie Mae Weems and Zanelle Muholi (previously), in addition to those who have only recently come into public view. The Argentine photographer Josefina Oliver (b. 1875) was largely unknown until her great-niece unearthed her archives in 2006, for example, and that same year, Karimeh Abbud (b. 1863), the first woman to establish a studio in Palestine in the early 20th century, was recognized for her distinct portraiture style in the first major exhibition of her work. “This ‘world tour’ enables us to re-evaluate some women who were celebrated and acknowledged in their own time, to remember others now unjustly forgotten, and to discover others whose work was never exhibited or discussed during their lifetime,” the editors say.
A World History of Women Photographers, created as part of the Rencontres d’Arles and Kering’s Women in Motion project, is currently available on Bookshop. (via Hyperallergic)