What do Sophie Calle, Rineke Dijkstra, Susan Meiselas, and Hannah Starkey all have in common? They’re all on the list of 100 contemporary women photographers picked out by the UK’s Royal Photographic Society, after an open call for nominations. Over 1300 photographers were recommended to the organisation by the general public, which was slimmed down by a judging panel headed up by photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg.
The final list includes well-known names but also less recognised image-makers such as Native American artist Wendy Red Star, Moscow-based photographer Oksana Yushko, and Paola Paredes from Ecuador. Each Heroine will be awarded a Margaret Harper medal, named after the first female president of The Royal Photographic Society, and the first female professor of photography in the UK. An exhibition and accompanying publication will follow, all part of a bid to highlight women working in what is still a male-dominated industry.
“Although it was a truly challenging exercise having to consider 1300 women, being a part of the jury for Hundred Heroines was ultimately an incredibly stimulating and inspirational process,” says Luxemburg. “This final list reflects both the global expanse of female practice and the intergenerational input into contemporary photography. It reflects the wide range of methodologies, practices and diverse approaches of women working with the photographic medium. This is a moment of change and this list of heroines pays heed to it.”
“They’re all driven by motivations that are both personal and political to a degree, and they are all self-initiated projects,” says curator Alona Pardo of the photographers in the show Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins. “Some may have started as commissions, but very early on took on a life of their own. It was interesting to think about the role of the photographer, because often the photographer hides behind the camera as a facade. There is also an interesting subtext of the photographer occupying the position of an outsider within mainstream society. They are there, assertively documenting the world.”
Stretching deep through the spine of California’s Central Valley is Route 99. Once the primary north-south highway on the West Coast of the US, it has now given way to the much larger Interstate 5. As a result, a string of towns in the 60-mile-wide, 450-mile-long route have been forgotten by the majority of travellers on their way to San Francisco or Los Angeles. Nestled deep in this dust-filled, insufferably hot region are the sites of Katy Grannan’s The Ninety Nine and The Nine. The title of the series of portraits, The Ninety Nine, references Route 99 and the small towns along its reach. The Nine is the title of a series of accompanying large-scale, black-and-white landscape photographs, as well as an upcoming film. This title refers to South 9th Street in the town of Modesto, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the region. It is also the place where many of her subjects reside. The landscape of the Central Valley is empty, physically expansive and physiologically charged. The valley is …