L. Parker Stephenson Photographs announces its representation of American-born Paris-based photographer Jane Evelyn Atwood (b. 1947) and opens the season with Paris Red Light 1976-1979, an exhibition of mostly vintage work from her first two series; Rue des Lombards (1976-1977) and Pigalle People (1978-1979). Acclaimed in her adopted country (with five different exhibitions this year alone), Atwood’s photographs have seldom been seen in the United States despite her being the first recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Fund Grant in 1980. This is the first solo exhibition of her black-and-white prints in the US since 2005 and offers the opportunity to view the early work of this celebrated documentarian in depth.
Atwood’s two long-term immersive projects explore cis- and trans- gendered communities among prostitutes in Paris. The legal precariousness and social intimacy of these groups’ activities lie in contrast with their public presence and display. For Atwood, the camera became a tool to articulate her fascination with this duality and to engage with it as a witness: “I wanted to look but I didn’t want to stare”. The exhibition’s intimately scaled vintage prints offer a peek into a world rarely visible to outsiders.
With a degree in theater from Bard College, Atwood moved to Paris in 1971. Five years later she began photographing and was mentored by Magnum photographer Leonard Freed. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1981 at the International Center of Photography (ICP). Since then, her varied series on blind children, women’s prisons, antipersonnel landmine victims, and Haïti have traveled to dozens of venues throughout Europe, North Africa and the US. The Maison Européenne de la Photographie hosted a major retrospective of her work in 2011.
Thirteen monographs have been published on Atwood’s œuvres. One of these, Too Much Time published by Phaidon (2000), represents a monumental project on incarcerated women conducted in 40 prisons across 9 countries. Not only does it continue to serve as a reference in the field but it has recently been adapted into a play in France. Atwood’s most recent book, Pigalle People (2018) – a series on view at the Rencontres de la Photographies in Arles last year – is already in its second printing. Her photographs are found in the collections of the Beineke Library at Yale, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France as well as the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, Centre National des Arts Plastiques and Galeries FNAC in Paris, Glasgow Art Museum, the Fogg Museum at Harvard, Fondation d’entreprise Hermès and ICP.
Jane Evelyn Atwood : Paris Red Light: 1976-1979
September 13 – November 22, 201L.
L. Parker Stephenson Photographs
764 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10065