The Politics of Photography: Feminist Activisms in India and Britain

Kim Koenig's picture
23.11.21 1pm (GMT) online
Launch event for the online exhibition Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media

What is the political role of the photograph and how does it intersect with the global history of feminist activism? 

Join us for an online panel conversation on photography and feminism to mark the launch of the German Historical Institute London’s online exhibition Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media.

The panel brings together the leading photographers, artists and activists, Sheba Chhachhi and Mary Ann Kennedy. With discussant Na’ama Klorman-Eraqi, Chhachhi and Kennedy will draw on their creative practice to consider the diverse and changing ways feminists have mobilised photography as a form of political activism from the late 20th century to the present. The discussion addresses how feminists have interrogated and re-imagined the role of photography, subverting dominant historical narratives, renegotiating the relationship between the photographer and the photographed, and envisioning feminist futures: what kind of history does the photograph tell? Who or what is included—and who is not? What—or whose—claims does the photograph inscribe?

Sheba Chhachhi is an installation artist/ photographer who investigates questions of gender, eco-philosophy, violence and visual cultures, with emphasis on the recuperation of cultural memory. An activist/photographer in the women’s movement in the 1980s, Chhachhi moved on to create intimate, sensorial encounters through large multimedia installations. Her work seks to bring the contemplative into the political. She has exhibited widely including the Gwangju, Taipei, Moscow, Singapore and Havana biennales; her works are held in significant public and private collections, including Tate Modern, UK, Kiran Nadar Museum, Delhi, BosePacia, New York, Singapore Art Museum, Devi Art Foundation, Delhi and National Gallery of Modern Art, India.  She was awarded the Juror’s Prize for contemporary art in Asia by the Singapore Art Museum in 2011 and in 2018 the Thun Prize for Art & Ethics. Chhachhi speaks, writes and teaches in both institutional and non -formal contexts. She lives and works in New Delhi.

Mary Ann Kennedy grew up in an inner-city neighbourhood of Chicago in the 60’s and 70’s – a place and time that laid bare structured, institutional socio-political inequalities of class, race and gender. Education is key in enabling women to enter the political and economic sphere and so she soon switched from a get-a-decent-education-but you’ll-only-get-married all-girls high school to the formerly all-male Technical High School College Prep. Having initially trained as an architect, she soon became aware that how we live is as heavily circumscribed through how we perceive the world – and our place within it. The growing awareness of the role photography plays in forming our vision of the world, and our place within it, led to a desire to challenge current narratives, to celebrate creativity as a vehicle for change – and to work within education as a political act. She studied with Simon Watney and Victor Burgin and collaborated with Jo Spence, which led to the establishment of a commercial studio in London engaging with educational publishers, campaigns and community arts groups. Mary Ann is a founding member of Photography Workshop (Edinburgh)/Portfolio Gallery, a founding member of WildFires network for women in Scotland who work in and with photography and is currently the Programme Leader for the BA(Hons) Photography degree at Edinburgh Napier University.

Na’ama Klorman-Eraqi is a lecturer in the Department of Art History at the University of Haifa.  Among her publications: The Visual Is Political: Feminist Photography and Countercultural Activity in 1970s Britain, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2019; she also published articles, in journals such as Feminist Media StudiesPhotographies and Third Text. Her research interests include political intersections between feminism, protest movements and photography, as well as social-political aspects of contemporary art. 

In order to register for this event, please follow this link to Eventbrite.

Hi! Was this talk recorded at all? Thank you!