A virtual exhibition celebrates the overlooked legacy of Soviet women photographers

27 April 2021

A new exhibition spotlighting the underrepresented works of women photographers in the Soviet Union is launching online.

Organised by the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Communism Through the Lens: Everyday Life Captured by Women Photographers in the Dodge Collection features over 130 art objects and shots by 15 photojournalists from the 1920s to the 1990s.

Using items from the museum’s own collection, the exhibition looks back at the history of Soviet female photographers and highlights the contribution of women to the craft through works that reflect their perspectives on labour, experimental media, gender, identity, and portraiture.

Zenta Dzividzinska, Untitled, 1965. Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. Photo: Peter Jacobs, 2021

Amongst the artists is Russian photographer Olga Ignatovich, known for her shots of workers, athletes, and sporting events in the 20s and 30s, Zenta Dzividzinska and Māra Brašmane, who captured daily life in Latvia in the 1960s and 1970s, and Natalia Tsekhomskaya, famous for her photographs of Leningrad residents in the 1980s and 1990s.

“These works draw viewers into the worlds of everyday Soviet citizens and their daily triumphs and struggles, which, to an extent, are allegories of life under communism,” says exhibition curator Maria Garth. “Despite the Soviet Union’s official rhetoric of gender equality, women of both generations shared a range of personal and professional challenges in advancing their careers as photographers.”

The exhibition is launching online on 29 April. You can register for the opening reception here.

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