The editorial board of Fisheye signs a committed manifesto, published in a brand new special issue, Femmes photographes, une sous-exposition manifeste currently on newsstands. An important text, signed by more than 1000 people, photographers, iconographers, students, gallery owners, journalists…
Women make up more than half of all photography students, but their work constitutes only 25%* of major photography events in France.
Women represent less than a tenth of photographers at leading agencies.** And when we call their employers to find out how many women are on the team, they embarrassedly ask if they can “count the ones who’ve died”.
Women are payed 30% less*** than their male counterparts. And those who do manage to find a position state again and again that “they are lucky” to be there.
Women are constantly fighting against the lack of visibility their work gets, though the roles curator, art commissioner and gallery manager are often more representative. To become visible, women have to reveal themselves in front of the lens rather than work behind it.
Women are often seen as women first and photographers second. They are irked by colleagues, clients and employers who misjudge them as weak, incompetent and inferior.
Women constantly see exhibition-goers approach their husbands instead of them.
Women are regularly viewed in terms of their “natural femininity” when dealing with intimate subjects, whereas the same work by a man is considered authentic art.
Women are surrounded by photographs of sexualized female bodies, images they are constantly told to emulate and perpetuate.
Women see their careers evolve more slowly than their colleagues’ because all too often they are the ones who make family-related compromises, saying no to residencies or jobs that take them away from their home.
Women, many of them, are reluctant to sign this manifesto for fear of disapproving colleagues or employers.
In a country where the masculine is seen as neutral and universal, any solidarity between women is necessarily “communitarian” and suspect, when in fact the “community” in question refers to half the population.
But we’re not just talking about equality here; we’re talking about artistic production, artists. Unequal treatment, respect and opportunity. And the world of photography needs to recognize that it is a long, long way off the mark.
We hope that, for lack of figures, no-one can say, “I didn’t know” or hide behind an “I didn’t realize”. That is the aim of this manifesto.
We demand greater emphasis on equality for each and every person in the world of photography.
We demand greater vigilance in the face of everyday sexism.
We demand fair treatment in terms of jobs, rates, publications and exhibitions.
We demand anonymity when being considered by panels and buying committees to prevent gender-based discrimination.
We demand better visibility and greater recognition from curators, gallery managers and journalists.
We demand that women who successfully establish themselves in the art world are not the exception.
We demand that work by women is not deemed a separate genre or a lesser art.
We demand that a survey is launched on the status of women photographers by the Observatoire des inégalités, with the involvement of the new Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen.
*Percentage calculated from solo exhibitions from the past 10 years (2006-2016) at the following festivals and institutions: Mois de la photo in Paris, ImageSingulières, Rencontres d’Arles, Circulation(s), Visa pour l’image, musée du Jeu de Paume, Maison européenne de la photographie, Centre Pompidou, Bal, Maison de la photographie in Lille.
** Magnum Photos and AFP.
***According to a survey on the photographic profession (published in 2015), carried out by the DEPS, under the Ministry of Culture.