Exploring elements that deeply affect us - memory, the passage of time, denial, connection and renewal - my self-portraits strive to be both universal and intensely personal.
Ever since its invention back in the 19th century, photography has been documenting life. At the same time it focuses on inviting audiences to a rather subjective world, while trying to be taken serious as an art form. Photography has always been considered a male dominated profession, but luckily things are changing. Scholars, writers, bloggers, photography students and enthusiasts have been giving due to the female pioneers of the field. Most of them were always standing and/or hiding in the shadows, oblivious to how much they could acclaim and accomplish. Arguably, the technique, concepts and thematic female photographers use differ from those of a male photographer. At a time when most women were convinced that their place was in the kitchen and certainly not in the dark room, there were those who were struggling to surpass their male counterparts and work towards gaining respect and recognition for their work.
Elizabeth Siegfried (American photographer, 1955) was born in Maryland, but has been living and working in Canada for nearly thirty years. Her university studies were in English, but after she graduated she followed her passion for photography and participated in a six-month residency program at The Maine Photographic Workshops (MPW) in Rockport, Maine. Over the following fifteen years, Siegfried returned to MPW five times including a month as artist in residence with an emphasis on platinum printing. In 1992 Siegfried was an artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and in 1997 and 2010, Sal Lopes, the celebrated master platinum printer, mentored her in the art of platinum/palladium printing. Siegfried graduated from Maine Media College with a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in May 2019. She presently works with digital capture and explores the expression of color, but has not lost her love of historical processes and analogue photography. Siegfried has exhibited her images in Canada, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan and Mexico. She taught platinum printing workshops for eleven years at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography and later ran platinum workshops out of her studio and Ryerson Polytechnic University during CONTACT, Toronto's annual photography festival. She has been a judge for the Photography/Multi-Media Computer Generated (Purchase) Awards for the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and on the jury for The Ontario Arts Council Project Grant. Known for her work in portraiture of self and others, meditative landscapes and photographic narrative, Siegfried has had her work reproduced in publications as Shadow and Light Magazine, SHOTS, and more. Her work is represented in many private and public collections, including the Aaron Copland House in Cortlandt Manor, New York; Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan, and others.
Anne Zahalka (Australian photographer, 1957-) is one of Australia's most highly regarded photo-media artists having exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas for over thirty years. She has held over forty solo exhibitions and her work is included in all major museums in Australia. Zahalka's work has often explored cultural and gendered stereotyping, challenging these with a humorous and critical voice. She deconstructs familiar images and represents them to allow other figures and stories to be represented that reflect on diversity and difference. More recently her concerns have shifted to the environment and the ecological disaster that has been unfolding globally and in her country. In Wild Life, Australia, 2019, Zahalka reimagines early Australian dioramas from natural history museums to mark out unsettling ethical and environmental issues. Working with conservationists, scientists, curators and photographers, she incorporates new data to set out alternative ways of seeing the landscape and the damage that has been wreaked on it. Zahalka was selected for the international photography exhibition Civilization - The Way We Live Now shown at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, in Seoul and at the National Gallery of Victoria. In 2019, Zahalka developed a major exhibition with the Museum of Sydney presenting a history of early commercial street photography. In the same year, the photographer travelled to Prague to undertake a residency at the Béhal Fejér Institute to exhibit The Fate of Things, an installation about love and loss tracing her family's story of persecution, exile and survival. Anne Zahalka's interest in portraiture is obvious, and dives into the innate adaptability of the genre. She uses portraiture to question dominant stereotypes while complicating the distinction between reality and artifice.
I've always loved the way photography can condense the world into a single frame so seamlessly and faithfully, recording its minutiae.
We will continue talking about female names that left their mark in photography and about contemporary female photographers who are still to emerge. There are a lot of female photographers out there deserving of praise and we can only hope to cover as many of them as we can. Please, follow this space to find out more.