Among Stern’s most significant artistic accomplishments are her Sueños, or Dreams, a series of photomontages that she contributed weekly from 1948 to 1951 to the Argentine women’s magazine Idilio. Stern’s works accompanied a column titled El psicoanálisis le ayudará (Psychoanalysis will help you), which reflected the considerable interest in psychoanalysis in the period immediately following World War II. Edited by sociologist Gino Germani under the pen name Richard Rest, it provided psychoanalytic views on the dreams of working-class women, many of whom were inspired to seek upward mobility by the glamour and populist ideology of President Juan Domingo Perón and his second wife, Eva Perón.
Approaching her assignments through a filmmaker’s lens, Stern delivered an entire narrative within a single frame. In Dream No. 1: Electrical Appliances for the Home, an elegantly dressed woman has been converted into the base of a table lamp about to be turned on by a male hand; electricity, here, is a metaphor for sexuality that connects to female objectification. Plumbing the depths of her own experience as a mother and an artist, Stern negotiated between privacy and exposure, blissful domesticity and a sense of entrapment, cultural sexism and intellectual rebellion. Behind a layer of playfulness, her work mobilized viewers to resist the pleasures and discontents of prescribed gender roles in mid-twentieth-century Argentine society and gave voice to the hidden repressions expressed in women’s dreams.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
From 1948 to 1951 Stern contributed weekly photomontages for the column “Psychoanalysis Will Help You” in the Argentinean women’s magazine Idilio (Idyll). Edited by sociologist Gino Germani under the pen name Richard Rest, the column provided psychoanalytic views on the dreams of working-class women mobilized to social ascendance by the promises of President Juan Domingo Peron and his second wife, Eva Peron. Behind a layer of playfulness, this photomontage expresses a sense of urgency about giving voice to the hidden desires expressed in women’s dreams.
Gallery label from The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012–April 29, 2013.