March 3, 2009 - Preus museum - Spotlight: Eight Women Photographers from the Preus Museum Collection
March 3, 2009

Spotlight: Eight Women Photographers from the Preus Museum Collection

Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty:
Trio Babooskas, Bulgaria, 1993
Preus Museum

Eight Women Photographers
from the Preus Museum Collection

08.03. – 25.10.

Curators: Hanne Holm-Johnsen and
Hege Oulie, Preus Museum

Opening: Sunday 8 March at 14.00
Live performance by
Lucy and the Red Stockings

Kulturparken Karljohansvern
Kommandørkaptein Klincks vei 7
3183 Horten, Norway

The history of photography has been written with an emphasis primarily on male photographers. But from as early as the 19th century, photography was regarded as an important profession for women, and women photographers have made major contributions to the history of the discipline. This exhibition turns a spotlight on eight women photographers who figure in the Preus Museum collection, representing a total time span of 140 years.

Women are also in the minority in the Preus Museum collection. During the process of digitalising the collection, it was possible to establish that they make up just 10.7 percent of the total number of photographers. Some of these women are, however, well represented. The material therefore offers a good basis for illustrating an underexposed aspect of photo history. For the first time we are showing a selection of women photographers so as to throw light on their contribution to history as serious practitioners of their profession, as artists and social critics.

The exhibition applies a historic-biographic approach, asking fundamental questions about the relation between the specific photographic material in the museum’s collection, the available archive material and the museological narrative that can be built up on this basis.

The following photographers are represented in the exhibition:

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–79, UK) was an early amateur photographer and an important inspiration to later generations. Cameron saw her task as a photographer as revealing how the human face can exhibit beauty, intelligence and wit.

Ellisif Wessel (1866–1949, Norway) was passionate about the life of the Sami and of manual labourers. Like the renowned documentary photographers Jacob A. Riis and Lewis Hine, she used photography to document social injustices.

Bolette Berg (1872–1949, Norway) and Marie Høeg (1866–1949, Norway), proprietors of the photographic studio Berg & Høeg, played with gender roles and identity in their portraits. We find a number of such ground-breaking photographers in Europe and America around 1900. Their photographic projects reflect women’s struggle for full civil rights and for the right to shape their own identities.

Madame d’Ora (1881–1963, Austria) made the transition from a celebrity and fashion photographer before World War II to the author of metaphoric images for the misery of war taken in Parisian abattoirs. Her fashion pictures, which convey femininity combined with luxury, follow the leading trend of the era in their emphasis on accessories and a soft focus. In contrast, her slaughterhouse pictures are direct and brutal.

Lotte Jacobi (1896–1990, Germany) was an important contributor to the modernism movement, although she herself later claimed that artistic trends in Germany in the 1920s had never interested her. The photographs in the collection are single images representing various periods in her career.

Elisabeth Meyer (1899–1968, Norway), one of Norway’s first photo-journalists, undertook important journeys to Persia, India and Mexico, both before and after World War II. Meyer’s cameras, library and a monetary endowment were bequeathed to Oslo Camera Club. After changing hands a number of times, her photographic archive was donated to Preus Museum in 2000.

Ruth Bernhard (1905–2006) was a German painter who made a career as a photographer in California. Her meeting with Edward Weston in 1935 had a major impact on her artistic development, radically influencing her understanding of the medium. What Bernhard learnt from Weston was that – like painting, drawing and sculpture – photography could be a pictorial art form.

Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty (b. 1960, UK-Norway) shows us people who have the courage to be themselves. Her photographs always have elements of spice and humour, and are never indifferent. Her gaze is both anthropological and personal, couched in a style that is immediate and almost naive. Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, Is the only living artist in the exhibition.

Press contact:

Preus museum
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