As feminism burst upon the scene in the United States in the mid-1970s, American photographers Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman and Susan Meiselas published books of a new kind. Combining testimony and pictures, they offered an unprecedented look at women in their workplaces, their daily lives and even their privacy. Women at work, the three photographers came into their own experimenting with the book form. They put women to the test of the photographic image, steering clear of clichés to show alternative representations.
This catalog reveals the singular development of their works.
The first of them, Growing up Female, published in 1974 by Abigail Heyman, is a personal diary feminist diary. The photographer takes a lucid look on her own life and questions the confinement of women in certain stereotyped roles.
The second book, The Unretouched Woman, published by Eve Arnold in 1976, shows unknown women and celebrities seized at unexpected moments in their daily lives. Refusing the editing or the staging, the photographer delivers a voluntarily diverse and nuanced set, far from the models on glossy paper.
The third, Carnival Strippers, published the same year by Susan Meiselas, is the fruit of three years of investigation of striptease in country fair in the north-east the United States. Through long testimonies, she gives the floor to the women photographed, testifying to their work, their dreams and their ambitions.
These images build an original look on women’s bodies, revealing the invisible work of makeup and staging, which conditions public appearances, and the unsuspected continent of intimacy,suffused with prosaicness and crudity. They also expose the social conventions and the norms defining the status of women in society, in the couple or in the domestic space, to bring out figures of active women, placed under the sign of independence and freedom.
Exhibition “The Unretouched Woman “during the Rencontres d’Arles, from July 1 to September 22, 2019, at the Van Gogh space.
Eve Arnold, Abigail Heyman et Susan Meiselas
Femmes à l’Œuvre, Femmes à l’Épreuve
Format : 19 x 21cm / 168 pages / 120 illustrations in quadri / 35 €
Publication in bookstores September 4, 2019