Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists from Helen Kornblum

Gertrud Arndt. Introduction to Our Selves. 1930 330

Gelatin silver print, 9 × 5 5/8 in. (22.9 × 14.3 cm). Gift of Helen Kornblum in honor of Roxana Marcoci. © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Helen Kornblum: Welcome to Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists. My name is Helen Kornblum. I'm a mother, a grandmother, a retired psychotherapist. I'm delighted to be here and I'm delighted you're here.

This exhibition includes dozens of photographs that I've collected over the years. It's part of a gift I made to the museum in honor of Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator of Photography. And in the exhibition, all the images are organized around this question "What is a feminist picture?"

In 1980, photography was just beginning to be taken seriously as fine art. I was collecting photographs by men and women. And then I began to notice how underrepresented and unappreciated women artists were. And I asked myself, who are the directors of the museums? Men. Who wrote the art history books? Men. So I focused exclusively on photographs by women to give them more visibility.

When I see a woman behind the camera, I see this woman in a position of power. And that, to me, speaks to feminism. Women representing themselves. When I think of a feminist picture, I have to first start with the fact that it's not exploitative. I think in so many instances, the photographer has collaborated with her subject, which in my mind, is a feminist idea.

I would like to quote Roxana, who writes in the book that accompanies this exhibition, “Women photographers, through their pursuits on the margins of art, have had more of an impact than the activities taking place at its center. Collectively, over the course of an ongoing struggle for social justice and solidarity, it has reached the strength of a tsunami."

I hope so.

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