Berlin Gallery Weekend 2019 has just passed - and only 15 female artists were shown in the program. Compared to the 41 male artists, that’s just about 30 percent. Creating visibility is important, that’s why this article marks the start of a new mini-series, in which I’ll introduce 7 female artists each - starting off with photographers.
The following artworks offer a perspective that’s inclusive, unconventionally beautiful, strong, individual, and most importantly: de-centers the narrow, uniform way of looking at women and their art. These inspiring women have shaped the development of artistic photography in the past, and continue to bring new perspectives into the art form today - and diversify this still mainly male dominated field.
Vivian Maier (1926-2009)
Vivian Maier’s street photography is unapologetic, authentic and taken with a certain confidence, transforming spontaneous gestures into expressive pictures. In her photographs, she often portraits the poor, those who struggle to get by, with great understanding, empathy even. As close as she gets to who or what she is photographing, as much of a private and intensely guarded person she was said to be herself.
It was only after her death, that her work has been made public in exhibitions all around the globe, from the United States to Europe. Movies and documentaries about the life of the “nanny who happened to be a photographer” (or was it the other way around? Does that even matter?) have been produced. All trying to find out more about the woman who would obsessively take pictures, but never show them to anyone. Photography was her own private safe space. All this leaves us to think of her photography as more of a self-therapeutic tool rather then something meant for the public exposure it received lately.
Abisag Tüllmann (1935-1996)