Research Project Summary:
Although the histories of photography, photobooks and artists’ books is widely documented, collected, exhibited, and discussed, the legacy of women using photography in print is under-documented, cursory, fragmentary and too often, inaccurate. Publishing was, historically, the privileged medium to circulate images, and women used it to claim their artistic, economic, political and sexual independence, blurring gender roles and modes of representation. In 2008, Delphine Bedel coined the term ‘Publishing as Artistic Practice’ which is now part of the discourse on artist publishing. Delphine now argues that if publishing is a political, emancipated artistic practice, as she demonstrates in her thesis and through her activities as a publisher, then we have to understand it as a feminist practice.
Working from a critical and feminist perspective, this research is twofold:
Firstly, in the aftermath of the #metoo movement, Delphine traces back her involvement with publishing and contemporary feminism, as artist, book editor, publisher and researcher and she reconsiders definitions and typologies.
Secondly, this research aims to retrace a different legacy of women artists and photographers who published. Delphine analyses a short selection of books that were reprinted–or are about to be reprinted. Providing the conceptual, historical and theoretical framework of this research, are artists and writers such as Hannah Höch, Lucia Moholy and Gisele Freund, Elizabeth McCausland and Berenice Abbott, Lucy Lippard and Martha Wilson. They were artists, writers, critics, scholars, magazine or book editors, publishers, archivists, curators or inventors. The diversity of their practice was too often overlooked or simply forgotten. Engaging with the historical, political, artistic and socio-economic context of the emergence of their editorial practices, Delphine highlights some of their achievements, in order to reevaluate and reclaim their legacy, and the impact of their work on her own artistic practice.
The degree or erasure and misrepresentation, the lack of documentation, academic research and archives, brings a sense of urgency: It is a collective task and responsibility to write a different history of women artists, photographers and their editorial practices. From the 1970s onwards, feminist scholars have highlighted the need of intersectional feminist methodology that takes in account gender, race, sexuality, class and ethnicity. Therefore, the feminist methodology for this research is diverse (typologizing, close reading, interviews, live archive, haptic) and reflects upon this complexity. Typologizing, close-reading and interviews led Delphine to rediscover and publish of key scholarly articles by women photographers. In 2014, she founded Meta/Books, a collaborative, and versatile publishing and research platform. Through curating events, publishing experiment, lectures and feminist education projects, Meta/Books aims to foster a critical debate on these practices as they emerge. With this research, Delphine aims is to propose a feminist toolkit so that others too can find their own voice, create counter-images, counter-narratives and contribute to a revised historiography.
Delphine Bedel is an artist, lecturer, curator and editorial director, specialized in emerging practices in photography, design and publishing. Known for her cutting-edge publications and feminist education projects, she works with leading cultural institutions, museums and art and design academies. She founded Meta/Books, a publishing and curatorial platform. Bedel is advisor for the Mondrian Foundation and a member the German Photography Academy. She serves as a jury member, lecturer and portfolio reviewer for photography festivals including Kassel Photobook Award, Unseen Book Dummy Award, Plat(t)form Fotomuseum Winterthur, Photobookfest Book Dummy Award, Moscow, Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award, EyeEm Festival, Journées Photographiques de Bienne, etc.. Currently PhD Candidate at the University for the Creative Arts / bookRoom research and publishing platform (UK), she contributes to books and magazines. Her work is exhibited internationally.
Selected Speaking Engagements: Paris Photo, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne Paris, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Rencontre d’Arles, Fotogaleriet, Oslo, Rosphoto Museum, Saint Petersburg,National Gallery Vilnius, Lumière Brothers Photography Center, Moscow, Grassi Museum, Leipzig, Centre de la Photographie – Geneva, Photobook Bristol, Whitechapel Gallery, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, City Photography Archive, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Konstvak Stockholm, Kunsthochschule Kassel, Akademie der Kunst, nGbK, Berlin, Van Eyck, HEAR–Mulhouse, Geneva University of Art and Design, Design Academie Eindhoven, Rietveld Academie, among others.