E-mail OrderingHome           Exhibitions           MSVU Collection           Publications           Posters           Working Title           Resources

Working Title

§ About Working Title

§ Writers’ Bios

§ The Essays

Home » Working Title » The Essays » In/Visible Truths
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   >

In/Visible Truths
The Photographic Work of Clara Gutsche, Adrian Piper and Allyson Clay

by Audrey Nicoll

Photographers have always known that the ‘straight’ photograph is actually highly contrived and subjective, reflecting their own psyches, as well as the aesthetic, political and commercial demands of the moment. Yet, for well over a century, there has been an unspoken covenant between photographer and audience, an agreement to embrace the myth of photographic truth. 1

It is important to keep in mind that one of the most important functions of ideology is to veil the overt power relations obtaining in a society at a particular moment in history by making them appear to be part of the natural, eternal order of things. 2

The photographic works of Clara Gutsche, Adrian Piper and Allyson Clay confront and counter the objectification of women in both historical and contemporary representations. As artists who came of age during feminism’s Second Wave, in the 1970s and ’80s, they are eminently aware of the hidden ideologies critical discourse began to deconstruct. Art, advertising, film, television and literature were recognized as forceful transmitters of a binding code of behaviour that became deeply entrenched in society’s unconscious. Artists attempted to make overt the patriarchal power structures defining gender, race, class, and age. In light of their analysis, a paradox became apparent: while images of women are highly visible in our culture, they connote neither power nor respect; rather they serve to control and constrain the roles and functions of women. Feminist discourse of the time realized the need to challenge dominant culture’s stranglehold on women’s representation and to reconfigure how women are represented. The personal became the political in an effort to recognize the plurality of women’s existence outside of a hegemonic framework of gender, race and age. Still it was a problematic exercise: how does one approach the representation of women and/or the female body with respect and not fall into further objectification?

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   Next >


1. Jonathan Green, “Pedro Meyer’s Documentary Fictions,” Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age (Aperture Foundation, 1994), 33. Quoted in Risa Horowitz, “Visual Literacy in the Age of Digital Photographic Reproduction,” Horowitz, Risa. Home Page. December 21, 2002 <www.usask.ca/art/digital_culture/horowitz/risavislit4.htm> Last verified: 15 October 2005.

2. Lynda Nochlin, “Women, Art and Power,” Women, Art and Power and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 2.

E-mail OrderingHome           Exhibitions           MSVU Collection           Publications           Posters           Working Title           Resources