Women with their cameras go beyond traditions and place themselves on an equal level with men in a new art that they now practice with passion. It is as if for six thousand years women had nourished a suppressed talent. They waited, accumulated strength. Our greatest painters have been men, do we not have the right to wait for our most famous photographers to be women?
— Margaret Bisland, 1890
Gender equality is a high-profile topic in our society and one of the priority areas of action for the French Ministry of Culture, which in October 2017 was the first state administration to receive the Women / Men Equality and Afnor Diversity awards. Equality is a major issue in the photography sector. In this scope, the Elles x Paris Photo path and the day of conferences proposed by Fannie Escoulen unveil women artists often forgotten, even invisible. This program aims to create an immediate awareness.
It is a priority and we contribute to achieving it. The 2019 edition of the Observatory of Gender Equality will identify key figures in photography that demonstrate that women are less visible, less paid and in fewer positions of responsibility. We must combat this situation with actions. May Elles x Paris Photo contribute to this combat.
— Beatrice Salmon
Deputy Director, Responsible for Visual Arts
General Directorate of Artistic Creation
Ministry of Culture
The invention of photography paved the way for new professional, social and creative conquests. Amateurs and the curious alike hastened to work with the medium, eager to experiment and in search of new discoveries. Women, finding it a means of expression and personal emancipation, devoted themselves to this technique with the greatest ardor, one which allowed them access to a professional and artistic practice on a par with men. Yet their recognition in the history of photography is nearly inexistent, and many of them still suffer from a profound lack of visibility. Upon the invitation of the French Ministry of Culture and Paris Photo, I developed for this 2018 edition an itinerary highlighting women photographers; a stroll through the fair booths in search of wonders, treasures and surprises unearthed by the exhibiting galleries and publishers.
What a joy to rediscover the images of the modernist avant-garde, Margaret Watkins, Lucia Moholy, Irene Bayer, Anna Barna; feminist artists of the 70s, Renate Bertlmann, Ulrike Rosenbach, Joan Lyons, Penny Slinger; as well as promising young artists, Lisa Sartorio, Wiame Haddad, Lea Belooussovitch, Hilla Kurki, Tahmineh Monzavi, and many others.
I hope that these discoveries or rediscoveries will give collectors, curators, publishers, cultural programme developers, and journalists the opportunity to offer a space to many of these artists for whom recognition is yet to come. And to everyone the pleasure that I had in immersing myself in this beautiful story of photography told in a hundred images, to read again, as is not customary, from the perspective of women!
— Fannie Escoulen