The Museum of Modern Art present Our Selves: Photographs of Female Artists by Helen Kornbluman exhibition that will feature 90 photographic works by female artists from the past 100 years, on view until October 2, 2022. Drawn exclusively from the Museum’s collection, thanks to a transformative photography gift from Helen Kornblum in 2021, the exhibition takes as a starting point the idea that the histories of feminism and photography have been intertwined. Our Selves: Photographs of Female Artists by Helen Kornblum is organized by Roxana Marcoci, David Dechman Senior Curator, with Dana Ostrander, Curatorial Assistant, and Caitlin Ryan, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography, MoMA.
Rather than presenting a chronological history of women photographers or a linear narrative of feminist photography, the exhibition elicits compelling new assessments and dialogues from a contemporary and intersectional feminist perspective. African diaspora, queer and postcolonial/indigenous artists have brought new mindsets and new questions to the canonical narratives of art history. Ourselves will re-examine a host of subjects, struggling against racial and gender invisibility, systemic racial injustice and colonialism, through a diversity of photographic practices, including portraiture, photojournalism, social documentary, advertising, avant-garde experimentation and conceptual photography. Highlighting both iconic and rare or lesser-known images, the exhibition’s groupings and juxtapositions of modern and contemporary works will foster unexpected connections in the Museum’s fifth-floor Collections Galleries, which are typically dedicated to the art from the 1880s to the 1940s.
Ourselves will open with a wall of self-portraits and portraits of female artists by modernist photographers such as Lola Álvarez Bravo, Gertrud Arndt, Lotte Jacobi and Lucia Moholy, alongside contemporary practitioners such as Tatiana Parcero, Rosemarie Trockel and Lorie Novak . Inviting the viewer to reflect on the structural relationship between knowledge and power, Frances Benjamin Johnston calligraphy lessons (1899) – a depiction of education based on racial segregation at the turn of the 20th century in the United States – will hang near Candida Höfer Deutsche Bucherei Leipzig IX (1997) – part of Höfer’s series documenting library interiors weighted by forms of social inequality and colonial supremacy. by Lorna Simpson Details (1996), a portfolio of 21 found photographs, points out how the camera and language can culturally inscribe the body and reinforce racial and gender stereotypes.
Works by Indigenous artists, including Cara Romero and Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, and non-Indigenous practitioners, such as Sharon Lockhart and Graciela Iturbide, explore indigeneity and its relationship to colonial history. Photographs by Flor Garduño, Ana Mendieta, Marta María Pérez Bravo and Mariana Yampolsky testify to the overlapping histories of colonialism, ethnographic practice and patriarchy in Latin America.
Ourselves is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalog that includes more than 100 color and black and white photographs. A critical essay by curator Roxana Marcoci asks the question “What is a feminist image? and a series of 12 focused essays by Dana Ostrander, Caitlin Ryan and Phil Taylor address a range of themes, from dance to ecology to perception. The catalog offers both historical context and critical interpretation, exploring the myriad ways in which different photographic practices can be viewed through a feminist lens.