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Tag: World War II

Paris aime la photographie III

When walking into Paris’s first retrospective exhibition of the photographs of Eva Besnyö at the Jeu de Paume, I was met with three mysterious images, visually linked by their askew perspectives. One is a self-portrait of Besnyö, who was born in Budapest in 1910 and broke free of Hungary’s provincial constraints to become a Berlin-based photographer at the young age of 20. The image of the woman in the portrait looks, in a word, contemporary. Unconventionally beautiful, Besnyö looks intensely into her medium format camera, hair tousled as her neck cranes above the view finder to which she is acutely focused, projecting an image of herself as an intense, slightly bohemian artist at work. Besnyö orchestrated this image of 1931 so that the viewer looks up to her from down below, and thus elevated before us is a powerful figure who directs our gaze and controls her own image long before similar strategies were conceived by feminist artists of the 1960s. It is from this point that the viewer commences into an exhibition of 120 prints by a photographer who has been given too little attention.

About Erin C. Devine

Erin Devine received her Ph.D. in Modern Art, with a focus on art since 1980, from Indiana University. Her dissertation, From Translation to Transgression: The Feminism(s) of Shirin Neshat, offers a more nuanced understanding of Neshat’s work, exploring the history of veiling in Iran, Orientalist imagery, and the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of veiled women in the U.S. Devine’s methodology includes critical writings on gender in Islam and an Islamist society, a socio-political history of Iran in the twentieth century, and postcolonial understandings of transnational feminism and the exilic/diasporic subject, all important to fully articulating new interpretations of Neshat that refute accusations of exoticization. Since completion of her Ph.D. in 2011, Devine has been appointed as an Assistant Professor of Art History at Longwood University in south central Virginia, where she is working on a manuscript based on her dissertation. Returning to work as a practicing artist in performance and video, Devine recently studied under Jonathan Harris at Anderson Ranch in Colorado and will be an Artist in Residence this summer at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

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