The work and contribution of women to national photography
By Yara Schreiber Dines
Women has always had a historical participation in photography, both abroad and in Brazil. The photographic studio, as a family business, helped the insertion of women in photography, but equaled all production, inserting the credit to the studio and not to the artist.
The woman's place in the photographic studio was that of invisibility, as a shadow of the man who ran her business, remaining this situation, even after the death of her husband, when she began to run the studio, with the stigma of the name widow - example Widow Pastore, wife of Vincenzo Pastore (IBRAHIM, 2005), never having her own individuality.
The female presence behind the scenes of the photographic studio was regular feature since the invention of this art. Women entered the universe of photography as retouchers, photocopiers, or assistants, acting in practices in laboratories and in the montage of photographs in various types of supports and cases.
Within this context, the only exception was Gioconda Rizzo, a pioneer photographer, in São Paulo, because she opened the Femina studio in 1914, which lasted until 1918, and was closed by pressure from her father and brother, who also attended Polish and French courtesans.
In São Paulo, the situation of women in photography is changing, from the 1930's on, when they became portrait artists, mainly, which was an initial way of being part of the market, and over time, each one sought to follow a trajectory - short or long -, always looking for alternative solutions in a competitive market. However, there is still, in fact, no memory of the work and performance of Brazilian photographers and, even, no memory of the work of Brazilian photographers. Internationally, there are few studies on the subject.
In 1976, the first major exhibition of feminist art "Women Artists - 1550-1950" was organized in Los Angeles, which marked the history of art due to its scope and relevance. Some others followed, more recently, as "Elles", at the Pompidou Centre, in 2009, and the exhibition "Qui a peur des femmes photographes? (1839 - 1945)", respectively, in the Museé of l´ Orangerie and the Museé d´Orsay, in 2015/2016, specifically for photography. In Brazil, recently, we had the Guerrila Girls graphic exhibition - 1985-2017, at the São Paulo Art Museum - MASP, in 2017 and the visual arts exhibition "Radical women - Latin American art 1960 - 1985", in 2018, at the Pinacoteca. But the number of exhibitions dedicated to women artists and photographers still counting on fingers.
To paraphrase the title of the essay (Why have there been no great women artists?, Basic Books, 1971), by Linda Nochlin, historian of feminist art, of note. Or, is it because there is still no substantial record of women's participation in the history of art and due to the fact that, for a long time, they were not seen as artists, but as amateurs?
In order to visualize and generate a memory of Brazilian photographers, until the present, I am proposing the production of research and publication of the book "Brazilian Photographers – Substantive Image", in partnership with Grifo - Historical and Cultural Projects, in order to remove this imaginary barn from oblivion and throw light on these looks, routes, paths, production and invoices of these women artists for their due recognition in the artistic field. The project is launched, raising partnerships and institutional support.
Adding more strength to the Brazilian photographers, Everyday Brasil, in Women's Month, honors the documentary photographers of the country, by making an edition and exhibition of the images of the/their artists, highlighting their production and contribution to the national photography. Highlighting the work of young and mature photographers on its website in March, is a good way to highlight these perspectives and imaginary approaches of gender, reinforcing their recognition, appreciation and performance in the labor market.
Yara Schreiber Dines
Anthropologist, Historian, Photography critic, Curator
Post-Doctorate in Photography - ECA/USP
Below, the work of some brazilian women photographers:
Click on the images to find out more about each photographer's work.