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Women photographers at MMFA

by Gabrielle Vendette October 18, 2016
Women photographers at MMFA

SHE Photographs looks at women through camera lens wielded by female photographers

The first thing you notice when you walk through the SHE Photographs exhibition is the variety of subjects and photographic techniques presented. Everything from still-life photography, to self-portraiture to collage is featured. There are black and white photos and colour ones, lone photographs the size of a wall and some that come in a series, and yet, they all convey a sense of unity.

Each picture addresses a different aspect of being a woman in today’s contemporary society. They grapple with themes such as solitude, old age, relationships and love. The visitor gets snapshots of the artists’ lives and points of view through the photographs, and this creates a very intimate link between the audience and the artists.

Diane Charbonneau is the curator of Modern and Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). She said she believes it is important to have an exhibition that focuses solely on work done by women because it allows us to interact more with the feminine perspective. She said it is essential to look at the subjects women address in photography.

As curator for this exhibition, she went through more than 500 pieces and picked ones that present a vast realm of subjects. According to Charbonneau, she was inspired by all the different themes that women address in their photographs and wanted to showcase a wide variety of photos.

This photo of Mrs. Thérèse MacGuire by Claire Beaugrand-Champagne is part of her series “Old People,” and is featured in the SHE Photographs exhibition.

This photo of Mrs. Thérèse MacGuire by Claire Beaugrand-Champagne is part of her series “Old People,” and is featured in the SHE Photographs exhibition.

The exhibition features many artists from Canada, mainly Montreal, and abroad. One artist on display is Geneviève Cadieux, an associate professor of photography at Concordia. Cadieux has been featured in multiple national and international exhibitions. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. Fascinated by the human body, it is the central subject in much of her work. According to her website, she enjoys focusing on very small details and expanding them into larger elements.

Claire Beaugrand-Champagne is another veteran photographer. Her occupation has taken her to many places around the world, including Italy and Thailand. Beaugrand-Champagne said she uses photography as a way to talk about social issues. In this exhibition, a few pieces from her photography series “Old People” and “Women from Montreal” are on display.

Beaugrand is currently working on a project called “Montrealers,” where she goes to people’s houses and photographs them in their environment. She said she believes where a person lives says a lot about who they are.

Everyone takes pictures these days, Charbonneau said, but this exhibition is a chance for us to take a step back and look at the perspective these women offer us. She said photography is so relatable because we recognize ourselves in each shot.

The SHE Photographs exhibition runs until Feb. 19 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

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