The exhibition is a nonlinear history of women in image-making
“Society consumes both the good girl and the bad girl,” Argentine artist Silvia Kolbowski once said. “But somewhere between those two polarities, space must be made for criticality.”
The quote was included in a statement from MoMA about the opening of Our Selves: Photographs by Women Artists this coming weekend. The statement sums up perfectly the nature of the collection, which is neither a chronological history, nor a linear account, but an approach to the medium from a “contemporary, intersectional feminist perspective,” in the museum’s words.
The show’s 90 images—shared by collector Helen Kornblum—come from a wide range of female artists: Lola Álvarez Bravo, Rosemarie Trockel, Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, and Flor Garduño, among many others. They tackle subjects from colonialism, to patriarchy, to racial and gender stereotypes, across Latin America, Native communities, the African diaspora, and more.
The show’s power lies in its breadth: Regardless of the identity of the photographer, each work is united by the common framework of a diverse feminist lens—one that includes minorities of all experiences. Writes Roxana Marcoci in the exhibition’s catalog: “The body of work in Our Selves is a significant step toward conceiving more complex, relational worlds in which these stories matter, by artists who invite us to imagine a history of photography in which female perspective, camaraderie, and mentorship are taken seriously.”