Recently I was gifted this book ‘Fragments of a world’ by a very thoughtful friend. It is a beautiful NZ book of female photographers from the 70’s. The book explores the females ability to express their views via photography. While I enjoyed the book it was not until recently, when I visited the Michael Lett gallery that was showing ‘Fragments of the world’ exhibition that I really began to unpack and think about what it meant to me. Being there with the works and walking through them, (and felt like I was stepping back in time) was a very moving experience. As these works are re-examined for now days and what is is to make analogue photography and film as a female.
It is interesting to have access to the information from the book when it was published and the writing around it now. It is questioned in the book if being a women and having a certain set of rules in comparison to a male in the 70’s is what drives these woman’s work. Originally the women seem very open to their life is what it is. It is not that being a women changes the way they think but simply their life and its limitations or possibilities that determine the work. The writing around it now that accompanied the work at Michael Lett however talks directly about the “feminist discourse of the era”. It is interesting to me that with out intending or necessarily knowingly doing it, the women’s themes and motif’s, via repetition, staging, blurring and other camera techniques talk about selfhood and sexuality that was very present at the time.
“each built their personal visual language and conceptual frameworks as a means to understand their cultural environment and position within it” (Lett, 2016)
Fragments of a world is exactly what we are being shown, fragments of what these women know. Explained through a medium that is at that time usually used for documentation but here they skip any chance of a decisive meaning. What is not shown is left for us to feel or imagine. What is reflected is reality. Now, more than ever as we constantly share or create our public persona does this work hold an importance in visual representation, both conceptually and in the medium of ones self, made up from fragments of what we know.