Feminist avant garde exhibition:TPG, London

I was not going to go to this exhibition because I am really tired of revisiting the photographs of the 1970’s and 1980’s but  I went because I was in London & more specifically Oxford Street for totally non-photo-related reasons.  I also remembered having read the email from TPG which had stated that a key concern of the project was  the question: “How do you visualise a woman in the 21st Century?” and the response which intrigued me was that of Nina Power:

“If the photograph changed the way we see, the internet has changed the way we read. ‘Visualisation’ is another language game, and ‘woman’ a particularly contested term, yet subject to exactly the same kinds of fort-da promotion and erasure as women’s bodies always have been.”

The psychoanalytic ludic qualities implicit in the fort-da reference concisely express Power’s views on the visualisation of women.

I found a leaflet printed and distributed by TPG which was promoting Sebastian Schmieg’s project  (running from 7/10 – 15/01/17) in which an image of Lena Söderberg, shot for a Playboy magazine centrefold in 1972, was adopted by programmers to test software algorithms.  I wonder if the organisers of the 1970’s feminist avant garde exhibition are aware of this irony?

Date: 7th October, 2016

Curators: co-curated by Gabriele Schor, VERBUND COLLECTIONand Anna Dannemann, The Photographers’ Gallery.

Location setting:  Split over 2 floors with an oversized exhibition by Simon Fujiwara: Joanne on the 5th floor, trying to get into the limelight, in my opinion, of the feminist exhibition.

Example of work:

Ana Mendieta: Untitled (Glass on body imprints-face) 1972.  Suite of 13 lifetime black and white photographs.


The exhibition was vast with references to many known photographers and theorists like Martha Rosler and Cindy Sherman.  What I saw encouraged me to want to read up on some of the photographers I did not know like Orlan and particularly about her work: Strip-tease occasionnel avec les draps du trousseau (1974-75).

Oral: Part of  “Strip-tease occasionnel avec les draps du trousseau.

Another highlight was seeing the work of Francesca Woodman which I feel is refreshingly different from the rest of the feminist photography canon.  Although she did not make images which sided with feminism, her work has a different take on female self-representation in the 1970’s.  Hers is quite an extraordinarily short life in which she produced such original work.

What I took away with me:

About the work:

It was more vast than I had anticipated.  I found the explicitly sexual images disturbing because I don’t think that in order to raise feminist awareness you must demean masculinity which some of the artists did like Judith Bernstein or Penny Slinger.

About me:

I would like to use ideas from Alexis Hunter to develop a body of work about how women are photographed in the 21st C.  I went past a news kiosk opposite Liberty department store and took a snapshot of magazine covers:






I would like to take more snapshots of kiosk covers and compare the coverage in Paignton with those in London or Bristol or Exeter because we are exposed to very different media in those different cities and towns.

Next steps:

Explore ideas of Alexis Hunter.

Photograph magazine stands.

Star rating of the exhibition: 4*

The Simon Fujiwara exhibition comprising a film and about half a dozen images was rather poor in terms of content compared to the feminist one & what he had to say through Joanne was rather simplistic; she wants to be seen in her different roles rather than as a stereotyped model.  The images were exceptionally large: it reminded me of films which rely on sound and visual effects to cover up the lack of content.

A frame from the film ‘Joanne’, presumably part of her life journey.

Star rating: 2*















6 thoughts on “Feminist avant garde exhibition:TPG, London”

  1. I went the other day as well – just saw the Feminist Avant Garde Exhibition. We were surprised that no British artists were shown but then that probably depended on the Collection that was curated (must look up more on that). I know have yet another list of artists to research!


    1. I’m sure I saw images by Jo Spence there. Regarding more references to look up, I have partly read both of your recent archive blogs but the thought of looking up your references weighs me down, but I know I must & very soon! Have you reviewed the feminist exhibition?


  2. Jo Spence isn’t on the list at the back of the Exhibition booklet.
    Re my Archive blogs, please don’t worry – a couple of them weren’t on the suggested reading for Part 2 but I wanted to get more understanding of this concept of archive fever. In fact I got submerged in archives!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s