From 12 June the exhibition “Silver Girls. Retouched History of Photography” can be visited in the Tartu Art Museum. The exhibition introduces a selection of works by ten early women photographers from Estonia and Latvia and places them in the company of three contemporary European artists who contemplate the lost and the neglected in our visual history.
Photography is commonly believed to document the world as it is. Similarly, archives and historical collections are believed to represent imagined universal truths. On closer inspection, however, it turns out that archives are collected and later investigated by historians with a particular goal in mind. In a similar manner, photos are always taken from a particular angle and are enhanced to please the author or the viewer.
Photography has been popular among women since its early days, not just as a hobby but as a profession. In common with many other fields and professions, in history books woman photographers are hard to find. This seems especially ironic as the retouchers working in photo studios were mostly women shaping images of the world to please others.
The exhibition “Silver Girls” introduces a selection of works by ten early woman photographers who worked in the area of Estonia and Latvia and places them in the company of three contemporary European artists who contemplate the lost and the neglected in our visual history. As the research into women in history expands worldwide, the Baltic states are catching up and putting together pieces that have been preserved to clarify women’s stories and their legacies. Some of the stories turn out to be very significant in the context of art history, and some serve as small but important expansions of an already existing view of our common past.